Sandy Vargas doesn’t have to worry about her family not understanding why she works long hours at The Gathering in Smithton.
That’s because not only does she own the restaurant with husband Jesus, who does the cooking, but her daughter Laura Ventura is a server and Laura’s husband, Santos, works in the kitchen.
“This is homestyle cooking, something you don’t see as much of anymore,” she said of a menu that ranges from metro-east classics like Horseshoes (six varieties) to all-day breakfast to all-you-can-eat walleye on Fridays for $7.99.
Ready to make the big step up after more than two decades working as a server at area restaurants, Sandy, 47, said the business opened Nov. 16 and is located in a small shopping center off Main Street. Set back from the street, it has big windows that look out on a patio and a separate bar area with gaming and a place for private parties.
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“The kids are all grown, so I did this for myself,” she said with a grin.
The menu is packed with choices, a nod to Sandy’s philosophy on feeding her customers.
“We like variety.”
Take your time with the big menu. You’ll find eight burgers (handmade patties), three melts, six wraps, a trio of triple-deckers and several premium sandwiches, with prices from $2.99 for a grilled cheese to $7.99 for an open-face roast beef, turkey or meatloaf sandwich served with mashed potatoes and gravy.
Then add some variety with quesadillas, stir-fries, pasta, Taco Tuesdays (99 cents each) and homestyle dinners, such as country fried steak with country gravy ($7.99). Sandy said you can’t miss with the fried chicken dinner, a quarter-chicken for $6.99. A half-chicken meal is $8.49. All dinners are served with choice of potato, vegetable and soup or salad.
But wait, there’s still breakfast and dessert. Pick how you want your eggs and fixin’s, from omelets, skillets and breakfast sandwiches, $5.49 to $8.49. There is also biscuits and gravy, pancakes, french toast and sides.
Save the best for last with dessert — Sandy does the baking.
“The coconut-cream pie is the most popular,” she said, though her favorite is a pie that reminds Sandy of one of her favorite summer treats, a Dreamsicle. Among her other desserts are banana cream pie, and tres leches and carrot cakes. Slices are $3.69, or take a whole pie home for $15.99.
For variety’s sake, the Gathering Place offers daily breakfast, lunch and dinner specials.
Enjoy your meal outside under red umbrellas, if the weather cooperates. The full bar just opened a few weeks ago and Sunday, for Father’s Day, enjoy mellow music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. by Charlotte Street.
Sandy said there likely will be more entertainment on weekends in the future.
The Gathering Restaurant
- What: Homestyle cooking; breakfast (all day), lunch and dinner menu. Carryouts available. Meeting/party room. Full bar and gaming area.
- Where: 101 N. Main St., Smithton
- When: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays; 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays
- Handicapped accessible: Yes
- Information: 618-416-5970, on facebook.com/The-Gathering-Restaurant-444427285741693