My favorite meal is breakfast. I’d happily skip the other two meals of the day if it meant a huge brunch around 11 with cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, shredded hash browns with onion, Scrapple if they have it and an English muffin with orange marmalade. There are only a few places I can get this meal in my local area, and one of them is about to close.
Holly’s Restaurant, located on Route 50 (on the way “down the Ocean” for Marylanders) has been open since 1955. It’s still in the same family. The sign says it’s the “Meeting Place of the Eastern Shore,” and it’s true that on any given day you’ll see politicians, watermen, and local families dining on the fried chicken, meatloaf, ice cream, and other homemade goodies. It’s always been my favorite place to meet a friend for coffee; I usually choose the “Shore Scrambler,” which is a unique chopped-up blend of eggs, sausage, hash browns, onion, mushrooms, tomato, cheese and (for me) skip-the-green-peppers.
I’ll miss it. I cannot blame the family at all for selling to Royal Farms, but it’s very sad. They’ve held down the fort for nearly 60 years, much longer than most businesses could even imagine staying open. My kids loved the placemats that required knowledge of the 50 states; only the first letters were given and no matter how many times we went, we could never think of all the “M” states right away. Sometimes the placemat was a 50 states word scramble, which is exactly what you’d have to do to find all the states during your visit.
“Breakfast all day” at what’s often referred to as a “greasy spoon” establishment is becoming harder and harder to find these days. Forget chain stores that serve breakfast all day, I’m talking about mom and pop diners with chrome barstools, jaded waitresses and coffee that doesn’t come with “cappuccino” as an option. You’ll never find me in the Cracker Barrel, and IHOP is great for pancakes, but it’s not the kind of place where they already know your order when you come in.
There are three other places I go that share some similarities with Holly’s. The Truck Stop on Route 301, though a little more casual (and pay no attention to that “showers” sign with the arrow) has a Circus Breakfast platter that I love, homemade pies, and my friend Tara swears by the creamed chipped beef. Maury Povich is usually on TV finding out who the father is. Verna’s Country Kitchen is a few miles north and has great home-cooked steak and eggs, though they don’t serve breakfast past 11. They also have delicious homemade strawberry jam. And the Easton Airport Café is another of my favorite haunts; they make “Sugar Buns” from scratch that are out of this world, have a dozen different kinds of Eggs Benedict, and the kids love to watch the airplanes take off and land. All of these places, like Holly’s, have that ceramic-mug diner coffee that you just can’t beat.
When Holly’s closes soon, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand to visit the new Royal Farms, even though it’s one of my favorite convenience stores. I do love their chicken, and they have Krispy Kreme jelly donuts, which I adore. But there’s another Royal Farms just like it only a few miles up the road.
Follow Splice Today Senior Editor Mary McCarthy on Twitter @marymac or visit her blog.
"Forget chain stores that serve breakfast all day, I’m talking about mom and pop diners with chrome barstools, jaded waitresses and coffee that doesn’t come with “cappuccino” as an option. You’ll never find me in the Cracker Barrel, and IHOP is great for pancakes, but it’s not the kind of place where they already know your order when you come in." Preach it sistah! I've been saying this for years. I hate that we're losing them, I really do.
Bummer of a story, even if Mary McCarthy has it all right. It sure isn't just the Eastern Shore of Maryland: in the past 2 years, I've lost 4 favorite independent breakfast joints on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Condos, Starbucks, you name it.