For regulars, Anne Marie’s Cafe is more than a place to get something easy for breakfast or lunch — it’s a tight community where around food and coffee in a cozy environment they can see old acquaintances and meet new ones.
With Saturday being the last day it’s serving customers before Anne Marie Babineau closes her restaurant and retires after 21 years of service, the atmosphere was a little somber this past week.
Word has been out, and the restaurant was bustling Thursday afternoon, with several longtime customers visiting one final time.
Taped to the front counter are a dozen “Thank-you” cards from customers and friends. Above the counter are multiple portraits of the staff’s family and longtime customers, some of whom have passed away.
Doug Twibbell, 77, said he’s come to the restaurant two or three times a week for the past 20 years. A photo of his late wife, who would frequent the cafe with him, is one of the portraits on the counter.
“I don’t know what’s going to replace it, but everybody’s going to miss it a great deal, and (Anne Marie),” said Twibbell.
In talking to customers, most said they enjoy how fresh all the food is compared to other options in the area, and that they enjoy trying the different specials. On Thursday, fresh loaves of bread were resting near the windows, which are decorated with plants and flowers in vases. For the final week, there was a different special every day, with Thursday’s being homemade tomato soup and egg salad sandwiches.
In the back corner of the restaurant, attorney Art Blauvelt is sitting in his usual spot, reading a book and sipping coffee during his lunch break. He’s another frequent customer who said he comes usually three times a week.
“It’s got all the necessities: quiet, good food, and coffee,” said Blauvelt. “I just come and sit in a corner, read, and get away from the stresses of my job for an hour, and go back. It’s very refreshing.”
Typical of the regulars, he said it’s sad the cafe is closing, but that Babineau has earned her retirement.
“I know she’ll have a great retirement, but I’ll miss her, the food, and the cocoon I could be in when I’m here,” he said.
Babineau is often very focused when the cafe is open, both acting as a waitress and checking on how everyone else and the kitchen staff are doing. A couple customers said it’s common for her to get a little stressed, but that she has a big heart and loves everyone.
For a couple staff members, they said it was sad to see the place close, and that it had a close family atmosphere to it.
“This was like a home for people, they drink their coffee, see people they’ve met,” said waitress Jacque Kost. “It’s going to be sad. Every day they come at a certain time, eat a certain thing, so it’ll be sad to see it go.”
The restaurant will hold normal hours Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and is located at 110 South I St. in Aberdeen.