Owners of the Scotts Corner Café are shown with their staff from left to right: Bonnie and Mark Hanson, June Bailey, Robin Dudley and Sandi Walters. Photos by Sheryl Oswalt.
By Sheryl Oswalt
Next time you’re traveling through Scotts and happen to drop your cell phone call; take a break and stop at the Scotts Corner Café. Fuel up with a specialty latte or smoothie and if necessary use the Wi-Fi while you’re there. If time permits, grab some breakfast or lunch. It’s a great little place where the people are friendly, the food is good and plentiful and the building is rich with history.
I met with owners Mark and Bonnie Hanson and their good friend June Bailey. They are all locals; Mark lived in Scotts until 7th grade when the family home burned and they moved to 29th Street. That put him in the Comstock School District where he met his high school sweetheart, Bonnie.
They eventually married. Bonnie went on to work in an accounting office; Mark worked for United Wholesale Grocery (UWG). In 1986 they purchased the building at 11011 Norscott Street where they operated a convenience store out of the building until 1991. That’s when they sold the business and kept the building. The convenience store moved across the street where it remains today.
It wasn’t until 2006 when Mark retired from UWG that they decided to renovate the building and make something out of a then-deteriorating building. Changing from a convenience store to a food establishment turned out to be quite a project. They all the work themselves. After removing four layers of ceiling materials, they found the original steel paneled ceiling that you see today. During this process they found the original delivery slip from Bradley Steel Company in Illinois – dated 1914. Long before it housed a string of stores, the building was the home of the Grange Hall where bands played and dances were held in the 1940s.
Fast forward to March 3, 2009 – when they opened with the intent of being a coffee house where they would have specialty coffees and pastries. Their vision was of a place where people would come in and stay to enjoy their beverage, use the Internet and maybe even read a book. Word of their opening traveled fast thanks to their self-appointed marketing person and life-long local and family friend; June Bailey. It didn’t take long and patrons were requesting breakfast; the locals were looking for somewhere to eat a meal as well as grab a coffee. The menu just grew from there as more people realized it was more than just a corner coffee shop. Even today Mark indicates that if it’s not on the menu but they have the ingredients, they will make it for you!
Today’s menu consists of breakfast items, burgers, sandwiches, salads and a children’s menu. A unique item I’ve enjoyed is their “build your own breakfast pizza.” Made on an Indian flat bread, naan, it’s topped with sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, cheese and a multitude of optional toppings. Some of their most popular items include that sausage gravy, southern omelets, Reuben sandwiches and quesadillas.
They do local deliveries and have hosted small functions such as wedding and baby showers, wedding rehearsal dinners and Christmas parties. The local Historical Society meets there on the third Tuesday of the month and has compiled a lot of history on the area. For those interested, there are several volumes of scrapbooks documenting local people and events that are on record for your viewing pleasure.
The couple’s commitment to their business and the community is evidenced by the fact that they sold their home and now live above the café. Their goal is to provide “a good bang for your buck.” If you finish your meal and aren’t full – they will bring you more at no charge. They have a great group of cooks and servers on staff. Both Mark and Bonnie pitch in where necessary. After retirement, “Miss June” also found herself at the café greeting patrons and doing odd jobs such as wrapping silverware. At 96 years young, she loves to stay busy and enjoys seeing the local people and they love having her there. From what I could see, the Hanson’s have all the makings of a successful retirement venture that is much appreciated by the local residents. Stop in and see for yourself.