Georgetown’s history is reflected in its many buildings on Main Street, but success in business does not come from the physical habitation of the proprietor. Success comes from what is created within and the perspective of the community.
Inside the Corner Kitchen, a building that has seen the likes of a banking house, telegraph, post office, book store, butcher shop, museum, and water company since the mid-1800s, Tanya Holliday has carried on a 60-year tradition of keeping customers happy and returning with great food.
Holliday, who just celebrated her fifth year as owner of the longtime eatery, doesn’t really know why people keep coming back to her establishment.
“It’s been here for so long, they know it,” she said. “I’ve heard people say they haven’t been here in years and they’re coming back. Seeing the ‘ladies’ come back is exciting for me.”
A small breakfast and lunch diner in the heart of gold country, the Corner Kitchen seats 25 in less than 500 square feet of space. The kitchen and grill are separated from the diners by a long counter, and a pass-through window allows dishes to be cleaned in another room, reducing some of that familiar clanking noise.
With its early opening hours of 6 a.m. Monday through Saturday, and 7 a.m. on Sunday, working men are a large part of the restaurant’s clientele. Even some of the specialties reflect an industry that once grew the town – logger, trucker and lumberjack, just to name a few.
“I changed a few things when I purchased the business,” said Holliday, who is in partnership with her sister, Peggy Duncan of Sacramento. “We added eggs Benedict, steak and eggs, pork chops and different salads to the menu. We also added the Rueben and some other different sandwiches.”
Earlier this year, Holliday hired Helen Kelly, who makes homemade pies. All of the food is made fresh, and on March 18, the day after St. Patrick’s Day, the corned beef hash is made from scratch.
Holliday’s lead chef is her son Linzy Cotham, who was the one that told her about the restaurant being for sale five years ago. She was living in Redding at the time and wanted to leave the growing city.
“I ran a restaurant for Travel Centers of America for 10 years,” said Holliday, who has always been in the food industry. “My son lived in Georgetown and told me to come look at this. I worked corporate and wanted a small town. I also wanted to be close to Linzy.”
With her sister and a daughter also in Sacramento, the location and timing were right for Holliday, whose aunt Sylvia helped her in the business for the first few years.
While the downturn in the economy has definitely had an effect on the Corner Kitchen, Holliday said, “It’s my guests and employees that keep us going.”
Although people are more likely to stop eating breakfast and lunch out when they have less money, Holliday said that most of her clients come to her restaurant for specific foods.
“They know what they like and what they want,” she said. “We have great people; I’m just working giving them food.”
But the food is the reason for the success of this small diner. The consensus from all of the customers spoken to for this article was that the food was the reason for their patronage.
“They make a killer pancake,” said Danny Mainwaring of Placerville who just happened to be having breakfast with his sister Sydney Hess.
“I like the biscuits and gravy,” said Hess of Garden Valley.
“I’ve been eating here since 1985,” said Reggie Gould also of Garden Valley. “I like the food, especially their biscuits and gravy.”
“This is the best place in town,” said Mike Wentz of Georgetown, whose friend Scott Tompkins agreed.
“They’re very accommodating,” said Rocky Awalt of Garden Valley. “They’ll make anything I want.”
His friend Brian Woodard said he likes the hamburgers, but primarily has breakfast these days. “The French toast is very good,” he said.
Holliday’s additional employees at the facility include a second chef, Darien Hughlett, and dishwasher and all-round helper, Samantha Trowbridge. Along with Holliday, her four employees keep a hungry town happy with “Good Eats!” as highlighted on the cover of her menu with illustration by Bob O’Hara. Closing time is 2 p.m. every day, and ordering ahead can be done by calling 333-1630.
“I’d like to thank people for supporting us over the years,” added Holliday.