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Pancakes, laughter, and hugs served up daily at Judy's Country Kitchen

This local favorite in Centralia has a simple motto: come in a stranger, leave as a friend.

CENTRALIA, Washington — It’s a Thursday morning at Judy's Country Kitchen, and there's not a parking space to be found. Not even across the street.

“We have hundreds of regulars that come every day,” says Judy McCann.

Part of the appeal: ample portions priced around ten bucks. 

“Our most popular dish is our country fried steak breakfast,” says McCann. “It comes with two eggs hash browns and toast. We also have specialty pancakes. We have a banana nut pancake, and we also have a stuffed strawberry cream cheese French toast which is to die for.” 

There's something else about Judy's Country Kitchen that keeps customers coming back: Judy herself.

Credit: KING TV
Owner Judy McCann is always laughing with her customers

“Not only does she wait on them but she visits with them and it makes you feel special,” says Pearl Moltz, who drives 25 miles each way, four days a week to have breakfast here with her husband. 

“It's just like going to your grandmother's house for dinner,” says customer Mike Wiles.

McCann never lets a holiday go by without dressing up.  “And sometimes she comes in here looking kooky but that's what the customers love,” says Dolly Schindler.

“I'm a lot of fun,” says McCann. “We're all a lot of fun here.”

McCann says it wasn't so fun when she started working here in 2000, “I was the waitress, the hostess, the busser and sometimes the cook.” But she saw potential and bought the place in 2006. McCann warmed up the décor, hired friendly people and treated customers like family.

“A man I was talking to said the reason he came in here every morning was because he got a hug,” says Schindler.

Among the regulars were a group of World War Two vets like her dad. She'd never charge them a penny.  “This is the only place that they can come to be uplifted and have a good laugh and have fun,” says McCann,  who then led her staff into the next room to sing "Happy Birthday".

That’s Judy's Country Kitchen, a place that just has a way of making people feel at home.

“I never dreamed in all my life that my restaurant would be like this,” says McCann. “I thought I would rather try and fail than not trying at all and that is been my motto. And I tried and it just took off so I'm blessed. I just feel like I'm blessed.”

Judy's Country Kitchen can be found at 3210 Galvin Rd in Centralia, WA. It is  open every day of the week from 6 AM to 2 PM.

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