Laurene Hynson is grateful to her loyal customer base at Sweet Maple Cafe. The popular breakfast and lunch joint in Little Italy celebrates its 10th Anniversary this week--a far cry from what she expected when she opened her doors in 1999.
"I had no idea what would happen, I had a one year lease I really did not know but it was something that I thought might be fun to do and I had my husband's support to do it and my kids were young and I just gave it a whirl and here I am 10 years later," said Laurene Hynson, the owner of Sweet Maple Café.
The staples really haven't changed much: the not-so-plain buttermilk pancakes with grade AA butter and pure maple syrup, thick slices of egg challah bread dipped into vanilla custard with hints of nutmeg form the basis of her French toast; a light dusting of powdered sugar adds another layer of sweetness.
"This year I added some egg scrambles which are different and actually I have a few customers that have made some contributions over the years in terms of things that they like, so I put those items on the menu to kind of honor them," Hynson said.
Customers have also demanded she keep things intact, such as the Taylor Street omelet - loaded with fontina cheese, fresh tomato and basil - homefries arrive alongside, as does a choice of homemade biscuit or toast. Hynson says the 10 year mark is certainly a major milestone, but she acknowledges no matter how good the food is, success depends upon loyal customers.
"I really stayed focused on what I wanted my restaurant to be, and I stayed true to my vision; my customers have been tremendously supportive through all the ups and downs in the economy and, you know it just clicked, it really has; everybody has been so kind to me over the years and I am just so grateful," said Hynson.
The price rollback is one day only Friday, October 23rd.
The Taste of Today's Chicago Woman , an annual fall fundraiser benefitting TCW Foundation. It's an "iron chef-style" cooking competition with a raffle and party afterward. Tickets are $75. Call 312-951-7600, extension 171 for more information.
October 28th, 6 to 9 p.m.
Chopping Block, Merchandise Mart location