Jean Kirby, the owner of the popular local restaurant Granny’s Pantry at 1221 Broadway Avenue in Atwater, could hardly believe the enormous surge of generous donations from local people as well as from people across the nation that she experienced after she made a random comment which was overheard by a customer.
Her comment, that it was a good time to replace the dining room carpet since there were no dine-in customers during the pandemic, was heard by Jim Williamson, who sympathized with Kirby’s situation.
He knew Kirby was discouraged after closing Granny’s Pantry except for take-out, which meant she had to let go of six staff members who were waitresses, cooks and dishwashers
Luckily, Williamson had a great idea.
He put Kirby’s wish for a new carpet on Facebook and a Go Fund Me page was developed, and a live radio show interview ensued which generated national attention that led to the transformation of Granny’s Pantry.
On May 27, when Granny’s Pantry reopened for dine-in, all the employees were back, customers were welcomed into a totally remodeled restaurant, and around noon every table was taken.
The remodel includes carpet and flooring in every room, and a new motif in the back room featuring an English countryside and city scape.
The flooring and back room decorations were more than Kirby could possibly have imagined, but there was more.
With the donated funds, she was also able to remodel the restrooms and do some needed maintenance.
People who hadn’t been able to enjoy dine-in services since March 20 when Granny’s began to be open for take-out only were thrilled to return on May 27 to enjoy delicious home-cooked meals and the beautiful new decor.
Describing the extensive remodel, Kirby told the Times, “We’ve been so blessed with so much.
“It started with someone putting up a Go Fund Me for new carpet in the dining room. This was as soon as the pandemic started, and we were saying this would be a good time to put a new carpet down. Someone overheard it, and within seconds it was on Facebook.
“We’ve done lots and lots of stuff.
“It ended up paying for the carpet and every floor.
“We’ve revamped the bathrooms and the back room.
“The L. A. Times is doing a story on us.”
Williamson told the Times, “Thousands of dollars were donated! Paul Creighton did an interview on Glen Beck’s nationally syndicated radio show. Beck was concerned about small businesses during the pandemic, and stuck up for them. After the show, a lady in Upland, California left the Los Angeles area in the early morning and drove to Granny’s Pantry, arriving about 9:00 a.m., and she handed Jean an envelope containing $4,000. Someone sent money from Colorado, and someone else from Florida. Locally, 40 to 50 people gave between $250 and $1,500.
“For the back room, Matt Anderson of Anderson Flooring in Atwater donated the flooring. The lights were donated by City Council member John Cale.
“Two artists, Reese Bigelow and Kristen Concepcion, are collaborating on a three-dimensional mural made of wood and stained glass which will be mounted on the wall. The mural features an English countryside. It’s a valley Jean likes. It shows a barn and an old house with a windmill. It’s more than half finished.
“The paintings on the walls in the back room are all new.”
The staff members were happy to be back at work on the first day of the dine-in reopening.
Karissa Medina, who has worked at Granny’s Pantry for nine years as a waitress and hostess, was all smiles as she told the Times, “Today is my first day back. I was off for two months because of the pandemic. It was actually relaxing. I spent time with my two girls, ages 4 and 9. We went swimming at grandma’s, fishing and hiking.”
Granny’s Pantry is currently open for dine-in every day. Monday through Friday, the restaurant’s hours are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. On Saturday, Granny’s is open from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., and on Sunday, from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.