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Feels Like Home: Lisa's Cafe

Photo by Jadrian Klinger

There’s a whole lot that Lisa Foust could say about running a successful business, having owned and operated Lisa’s Café in Palmyra since 1999.

She could talk about the importance of having a strong manager like herself. She could talk about her passion or the quality ingredients used. She could talk about location or the importance of creating a loyal following.

However, Foust, 52, hesitates for a moment, and a wave of emotion hits her hard as she reminisces about what she’s created. Tears gather in the corners of her blue eyes and begin to trickle down her cheeks. She catches them each with her thumb.

“I think a lot of it, as far as success is concerned, has to do with your employees. They are so important,” she says, her voice cracking. “They can make or break you, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of great employees. I think great service is a big part of any successful business.”

More than 30 years in food services have culminated in Foust’s success at her Main Street hot spot, which she renovated from its original state: a vacant Turkey Hill Mini Mart.

Foust credits her low employee-turnover rate for helping to create the friendly, comfortable environment for which her café is known. Her front-end manager Lori Orehek has been by her side since the beginning, and head chef Nick Musser has churned out dish after dish of pure deliciousness for over seven years.

Lisa’s Café is famous for its Reuben and Rachel sandwiches that share the delectable common elements of fresh Terranetti’s rye bread, tangy Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese.

The Reuben includes a hefty portion of sauerkraut whereas the Rachel gets a layer of creamy coleslaw. Unlike most restaurants, Lisa’s Café allows you to choose your base; pick from corned beef, turkey, roast beef, grilled chicken, turkey burger, cheeseburger or even portabello mushroom.

Besides having delicious sandwiches, Lisa’s Café serves up homemade entrées, soups, salads, pizza, stromboli, subs and desserts, many of which are inspired by Foust’s years of experience with Minnie Siegfried at Our Daily Bread.

Beyond the regular menu, Foust and team offer a varying list of daily specials.

“We make our own quiche each day, which we are famous for. We also do specials in seafood, beef or pork, pasta and chicken,” explains Foust. “We try to do everything fresh, so we may only have it a day or two.”

The café also serves breakfast starting at 7 a.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. The menu includes omelets, pancakes, French toast, breakfast sandwiches and, of course, an ever-changing list of specials.

Excellent service paired with home-style, just-like-mom-makes-it classics has proven to be a very worthwhile business plan for Foust.

“We’ve had a comment book up at the front since I opened, and at least 80 percent of it is positive comments. We’ll get an occasional complaint, such as that people don’t like sitting at the high tables. So if that’s the worst thing people can say, I think we’re doing OK,” says Foust with a chuckle.

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