By Karen Brainard
Kountry Kitchen owners Mike and Theresa Adams have strived to create an atmosphere that will make their customers feel right at home.
And many customers do. Regular customers come in every morning to the downtown Ramona restaurant, grabbing their initialed coffee mug, said Theresa.
Kountry Kitchen’s array of coffee mugs, each with a different design, is a hallmark of the eatery, one that was carried over after the Adamses purchased the restaurant just over a year ago. They found customers would fight over which cup to use.
“Certain customers would walk around looking for their favorite cup,” recalled Theresa.
The mugs blend in well with the restaurant’s homey French country atmosphere that the couple accomplished by adding wainscoting, a warm yellow paint, pictures of roosters, and shelves lined with vintage tins, antiques, pottery and bunches of sunflowers. Doors inside have been painted with chalkboard paint to display the day’s specials. A double antique icebox holds the menus and silverware.
Theresa gives the decorating credit to her sister-in-law’s sister, Yoli Hill of Ramona.
“She just did a fabulous job,” said Theresa.
“It’s a family kind of atmosphere,” said Mike. “People come in the front door and feel like they’re coming to Grandma’s.”
For some customers, it could feel just that. Kountry Kitchen has been in Ramona since 1939 and the Adamses say customers recall coming in as children with their parents or grandparents.
Many of the restaurant’s employees have been at the Kountry Kitchen a long time. Theresa said they tried to keep all the employees when they took ownership. Going back to that family theme, Theresa said, “Everyone cares about everyone.”
As restaurateurs, the couple say they focus on three areas: quality, service and family affordability.
Mike said the restaurant is known for its breakfasts, and on weekends patrons line up outside. Favorites include eggs benedict and the cinnamon French toast, made with Kountry Kitchen’s cinnamon rolls. Another favorite is the Wrangler with choice of pancakes, waffles, cinnamon roll, or French toast, and eggs, bacon, sausage with Kountry fries or hash browns.
Mike praised cook Doug Darnell.
“He’s the reason breakfast is was it is here,” said Mike.
According to Mike, the restaurant is also known for its gravy, which recently drew a customer all the way from Descanso. Theresa said she received a call from a friend in Phoenix who had collected 200 Christmas mugs for the restaurant and asked for a gallon of gravy in return.
Kountry Kitchen has about six cooks, some of whom work part time, said the couple. Matt Nored, a culinary arts chef, has revamped the dinner menu, they said, and offers a fresh fish on the weekends.
“It’s got to be fresh and it’s got to be quality,” said Mike.
Vegetables are always fresh and the beef is certified Angus beef — ”the best beef you can buy,” said Mike.
Favorites for dinner are the chicken pot pies, the half-roasted chicken and this month the roasted turkey dinner special.
The Adamses hired a pastry chef, Dave Malone, and said his mini fruit pies have been “flying out” of the restaurant due to their popularity.
Kountry Kitchen also offers children’s and senior’s meals. The owners say they try to keep prices affordable.
“We watch prices very carefully,” said Mike.
Kountry Kitchen is at 826 Main St., 760-789-3200. Hours are 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 5 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. More information is available at ramonakountrykitchen.com.