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April, 2011, Page 362
BACK OF THE HOUSE
Nancy Hagadorn-Wallace owns Kiss the Cook, a Glendale institution serving home-style breakfast and lunch in an old-fashioned setting dotted with antiques.
There’s no pretension here – just solid favorites such as fluffy omelets, pancakes (her grandma’s recipe) and gooey pecan cinnamon rolls, a house signature using her own recipe.
Hagadorn-Wallace’s parents, Roger and Carol Hagadorn, owned a snack bar from 1972 to 1982 in a FedMart store and opened Kiss the Cook in 1982, when West Glendale Avenue housed a bustling strip of car dealers. It started as a place where dealers and customers could pick up a quick sack lunch, and soon people were asking for breakfast. They started offering breakfast all day in 1990.
In 1986, Hagadorn-Wallace joined the business and runs it today, though mom and pop still help out. The family knows at least 500 people by name, she says, and keeps a database of customers to call when the restaurant is making their favorite special or baked good on any given day.
What’s your background in the restaurant business?
After the snack bar, I went up to Pinetop to be a ski bunny. I worked in the ski resort, I tended bar, I worked in the snack bar. I met a gentleman and we had the Hon-Dah Café for five years (in the mid-1980s). It’s the casino now.
Where do you find all of the antiques? I love the old stove.
My mother and I would go [antique hunting] every single year; it was our little getaway. This started even before I worked here. We would go back east [to Michigan]. We’d take the van and drive back.
Has anyone ever asked to buy something that wasn’t for sale?
Yes, like the cupboard behind you. We could have sold those corner cupboards a thousand times. They came out of an old house and they were built in. And our butcher block, the breadbox and the table underneath it. There are things now over the years customers have brought us, so I can’t get rid of them.
You’ve been in business nearly 30 years. What’s the secret?
Long hours and love. You have to be here to be successful. You can’t be a nonexistent owner. You have to want to be here night and day. You have to love what you do. When we got started, Dad loved to tell jokes, my brother loved cooking, I loved to bake and Mom loved to decorate.
Do you have something fresh-baked every day?
Yes, something good. Something yummy. Except Thursday; I’m off on Thursday.
I didn’t see pie on the menu.
It’s not. I make what I feel like making.
Do you ever change the menu?
Little pieces, but we’ve never done “here’s a brand new menu.” Regulars want to come here 10 years from now and have that same chicken salad or same pecan roll.
Which is the most popular menu item?
They’re the fluffiest I’ve ever had. What do you do to them?
I whip them. We whip them good.
Owner, Kiss the Cook
4915 W. Glendale Ave., Glendale
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