Whether you’re looking to start the day with a homemade pecan cinnamon roll or need a pick-me-up lunch of hot ham and cheese with a side of freshly made potato salad, owner Mike Buettner is behind the counter at Nanny Lou’s Kitchen waiting for you.
The cafe, at the corner of West Main and South 20th streets in Belleville, is exactly where Mike, 57, wants to be and what the area needs, he says.
“This end of town, Mid Towne, doesn’t have a lot of restaurants,” he noted of the area between Sixth and 28th streets. “We own the building and wanted to do something with it.”
After considerable renovation, Nanny Lou’s (it’s a friend’s nickname) opened in May — weekends only, then went six days a week in July.
We wanted to offer residents a place where they could come and enjoy not fast food, but convenient comfort food. ... It’s all homemade and ready to go. And, we got to create some jobs.
Mike Buettner on why he started Nanny Lou’s
“We wanted to offer residents a place where they could come and enjoy not fast food, but convenient comfort food” at very reasonable prices, he said. “It’s all homemade and ready to go. And, we got to create some jobs.”
The restaurant is open 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Mike and his team focus on breakfast and lunch, which you can eat inside the high-ceiling restaurant or take with you. There’s seating by the big front window or in the back. Mike’s prep and cooking area is in between with a counter for ordering.
A lifelong Belleville guy, Mike is a Mid Towne resident, too, and a Ward 2 alderman to boot. Retired after 31 years with the St. Clair County Probation Department, he laughs about advice from friends about opening a restaurant.
“A lot of people said, ‘Don’t do it!’”
A lot of people said, ‘Don’t do it!’
Mike Buettner on friends’ advice about opening a restaurant
But Mike likes to cook, and he does it all from scratch. His breakfast menu offers that big cinnamon roll ($1.79), three kinds of muffins ($2.49 each), biscuits and gravy ($1.79) and three kinds of biscuit sandwiches, such as sausage or egg and cheese for $2.39.
A 12-ounce bowl of homemade soup is $2.59. Choices vary weekly, but have included vegetable beef, loaded baked potato and jambalaya.
There are daily specials set every Monday on Facebook, so Mike suggests going there to see what he’s cooking.
There’s no fried food, but plenty of healthy options, including six salads, such as the Nanny Salad, a combination of iceberg lettuce and spring greens with tomato, onion, broccoli, cauliflower, green pepper, sunflower seeds and cranberries ($6.99).
Mike’s homemade sides of potato salad, coleslaw and Italian pasta salad (99 cents each) go pretty quickly. Add one to any of the eight sandwiches served, such as the What’A Ciabatta, toasted ciabatta with deli-sliced ham, turkey and salami, provolone cheese and lettuce ($5.49).
On a recent afternoon, Marielle Austin and Kim Brothers, both from Belleville, shared a Nanny Salad and split a hot ham and cheese on a Hawaiian sweet bun ($5.49).
“This is just right, just enough for me,” said Marielle. Her sister Kim, mouth full, nodded. “This is the first time we’ve been in here, and it’s good.”
They were trying to ignore the desserts, but that’s hard to do. Mike said his sour cream custard pie with walnuts is very popular at $1.99 a slice. Brownies are $1.49, and jumbo cupcakes are $1.99.
New customers are finding him every day, he said, and “we’ve got a lot of regulars for breakfast and lunch.”
Mike said owning Nanny Lou’s has opened up a whole new way to reach residents.
“I’ve dealt with people my whole life. I enjoy talking to them. I like to think of this as their meeting place.”
Nanny Lou’s Kitchen
- What: Cafe serving breakfast and lunch, with soup, salad, sandwiches, dessert and daily specials
- Where: 1926 W. Main St., Belleville
- Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday
- Parking: Lot behind building and on the street
- Handicapped accessible: Yes, through rear entrance off parking lot
- Information: 618-671-6589; call for orders and carryout. Also, online at www.nannylouskitchen.net and Facebook.