Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All Mailyn, All the Time

Marilyn Masaitis, owner of Marilyn's Cafe in Chester, might well be the hardest-working woman in the local restaurant business.

"I'm here 365 days a year," Masaitis says, "Seven days a week."

This work ethic of hers and her employees is what she thinks has helped them survive in this rough economy.

"I'm having a wonderful time," Masaitis says. "We're in the worst recession ever since the Great Depression, and we're busy every day."

Still, she knocks on wood all the same.

"It's a shame that we're in a recession, and everything is closing up," Masaitis says. "There are at least four, five, six stores in every single mall that are closed. It's bad."

But it's not so bad at Marilyn's. There's the work ethic, of course. But it's also because of its stellar food, as Marilyn's has a breakfast menu to die for.

"We have hash, we have eggs Benedict — most places don't have that," Masaitis says. "We have fresh crepes, which range from apple cinnamon to mixed berry, whole wheat pancakes, fresh fruit. Cinnamon raisin French toast with fresh bananas and strawberries."

The restaurant also has a few items that aren't seen at most places known for their breakfasts: scrapple.

If you've never heard of Scrapple, its definition on dictionary.com makes it sound delicious: cornmeal mush mixed with pork, seasoned with onions, spices and herbs, shaped into loaves and sliced for frying.

"The people here love it," Masaitis says.

The cafe also serves lunch with dishes such as veal parmigiana and veal cutlet, as well as soups and appetizers such as onion rings, french fries, and jalapeno poppers.

Besides the food, the other appeal of Marilyn's is the atmosphere, which Masaitis has worked very hard on updating over the years.

"Every single day, I try to add something new to the walls," says Masaitis, who has owned the place for three years but has worked in the building for more than 20 years. "I try to put up as much as I can find. I'm running out of space."

From the entrance to the rear, with old timey booths and a diner counter for sit-downs for coffee and pie, the place is stuffed with Marilyn Monroe memorabilia, from license plates to dolls and photos of the movie icon along the walls.

"My customers bring me gifts all the time," Masaitis says, "They'll bring me a license plate of Marilyn, a singed and numbered plaque, the Barbie doll Marilyn, the bobblehead. Every time they go on vacation, they bring me something back."

The building had a lengthy history before Masaitis owned it.

"This place was opened in 1968," Masaitis says. "It used to be called the Golden Horse restaurant, and I worked here for 20 years."

Masaitis has seen a lot in those years, but in that time, she's also always had a soft spot for the area.

"Chester is very quaint," Masaitis says. "People come here for the antiquish atmosphere."

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