BY MAUREEN WERTHER
Country Corner CafÃ© on Church Street in Saratoga Springs is celebrating its 25th year, and owner Roseann Hotaling couldn’t be happier with the business she has created.
In 1991, she opened the 19-seat cafÃ©, catering to the early morning working crowd. The mother of a three-year old and a kindergartener, Hotaling managed to arrive at the cafÃ© by 5 a.m. and open the doors for business at 6 a.m. By 8 a.m., she would change and head over to her full-time job as director of food service for the Saratoga Springs City School District.
This routine lasted for 14 years, and in 2005 Hotaling made the decision to leave the school district and devote her energy full-time to the cafÃ©. She opened a second location on High Rock Avenue in Saratoga Springs.
Two and a half years after opening the High Rock location, Hotaling was offered the opportunity to expand the Church Street location and jumped at the chance. The additional space tripled the seating capacity. For the next couple of years, she was, in effect, running three businesses–the original cafÃ©, the expanded dining room next door, and the High Rock location.
Although the High Rock cafÃ© was equally successful, “things just got too crazy,” said Hotaling. When the lease expired there, she did not renew. She focused on the expanded Church Street business.
Since opening in 1991, many things have changed. The cafÃ© no longer opens at 6 a.m. and Hotaling’s employee count has gone from about six in 1991 to 16.
But the homemade food has remained the same. Hotaling still makes her locally famous jams and preserves with the help of her son, Eric, now age 29. Many other menu items have been around since the beginning, including “Ida’s Swedish oatmeal pancakes,” a recipe that was given to Hotaling’s mother and passed along to her.
What Hotaling finds most rewarding, she said, is the people she has met and the friends she has made. Hotaling credits this, in large part, to her staff, most of whom have been with her for at least 10 years.
“In the restaurant business, that kind of longevity is pretty unusual,” said Hotaling.
She said the relationship between her staff and her customers has made Country Corner CafÃ© the success it continues to be today.
Hotaling said she is in the midst of plans for a 25th anniversary open house celebration, to be held in June. She and her team are putting together a collage of news items, old menus, photos, and awards to have on display. She is also re-doing the company website and creating a new logo.
The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Its website is countrycornercafe.net. Its phone number is 583-7889.