No, I’m Not Betty
“Are you Betty?” I asked
She immediately tuned to show the back of her shirt with the words, “No, I’m not Betty.”
As Heather, the manager with the off-beat shirt, seated us at one of the booths we began to look around. A sign on the counter read, “Complaint Department” and an arrow pointing to the front door, “200 miles.”
Below the complaint sign was another, “If you are grouchy, irritable or just plain mean, there will be a $10 surcharge for putting up with you.”
Finally above the counter on the wall: “You don’t have to be crazy to work here. We train you.”
While we began to scan the menu, we noticed a toy train rolling along a set of tracks near the ceiling. All of these peripheral engagements put us in the proper frame of mind to place an order for food. While it was a late breakfast time, the restaurant serves these choices all day along with sandwiches and entrees referred to on the menu as ‘platters’ of beef, chicken and seafood and a number of sides and beverages. Any of the several appetizers (deep fried dill pickles and boneless chicken wings) can be had for under $6.
We decided to take the simple route with a Hometown Breakfast for $6.29: scrambled eggs, sausage and toast. The quick service was interrupted only by periodic banter with Heather (I’m Not Betty). The meal served quickly from the kitchen delivered fresh edibles – the eggs were still with heat from the skillet as were the sausages and the toast was still warm.
On another occasion we learned that the college students’ from Shepherd University, preference by a wide margin, according to Brenda (she’s not Betty, either) who was hauling out the meals for us, was ‘Country Skillet.’ My wife and I decided on that for lunch. Country Skillet came in a bowl with contents of gravy, eggs, cheese and home fries in layers and a couple of biscuits on the side. As we dipped into the bowl our taste buds coincided with the students as we adopted the dish as one of our favorites. The ample dosage was more than we could eat— our no longer having a young appetite — but that didn’t detract from the satisfying taste.
In checking around with some of the other customers past college days, the preference by a long measure was crab cakes. Brenda confirmed that Country Skillet and crab cakes were meals most ordered by their clientele. One said, “I come in here and order only crab cakes. They are the best.” He went on to say, in his opinion, the critical element was to insure fresh crab meat.
One lady said that her constant choice was, “Grilled cheese sandwich and French fries. The fries are the best I’ve ever had.” We poached a fry or two off the plate of one of our luncheon guests. That seemed to confirm the lady’s assessment – no sign of grease, yet fresh and just moist enough.
The prices for platters ranged from $6.99 to $9.99 for Salisbury steak; sandwiches has $2 or $3 less price tags and the sides mostly under $3. Two signature crab cakes will run $21.99, one $11.99 or $14.99 depending on the sides.
Betty Osbourne opened the restaurant in 1959 and owned it continuously for 42 years. Health issues forced her retirement and she sold the restaurant to Regina and Howard Wines Jr., who took ownership on Feb. 1, 2001. Regina’s daughter Heather Renaud has been managing the restaurant since then.
The founder, Betty Osbourne, died a little more than a year afterward. However, she is given due credit with humor and a painting that hangs on the wall near the entrance.
Also on the wall facing the doorway was an autographed photo of Tamara Tunie, an actor on television’s “Law and Order.”
“She came in during the art festival last year.” said Brenda.
Both times we left the restaurant, we felt we had made new friends in a perky atmosphere with a menu suitable for anyone. For sure we had no intention and no reason to drive 200 miles to the complaint department.
Betty’s Restaurant is at 114 E. German St., Shepherdstown, W.Va. 304-876-6080.
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