Last Call Served at Verona’s MOM Restaurant

Last Call Served at Verona’s MOM Restaurant

After 40 years as a Verona institution, MOM Restaurant served up its final meals under the Doulas family’s watch on March 14, leaving a sizeable hole in many folk’s dining plans and hearts.

As one of MOM’s secondgeneration family owners and chef, Gus Doulas has decided with his brothers/partners that it’s time to call it a day and the family is hanging up their aprons.

“There is a new owner who will be taking over this summer, but we decided to retire a little early,” said Doulas. The family has stressed repeatedly that this has nothing to do with COVID-19, it was just the right time for them to step away.

By 8 a.m., an hour before the country diner opened its doors on its final day, people were already waiting in parked cars to ensure they got a seat. First in the lot were Matt Bell, his girlfriend Rachael Caume and daughter Emerson, 2. Bell grew up in Enterprise and his mother still lives in Bellrock.

“I’m gonna miss the place,” said Bell. “I’ve been coming here at least 25 years I can remember, but I’m 34 so it’s probably longer than that!”

He and his family have made MOM’s a monthly tradition for years – though they have been making the drive from Odessa a little more frequently of late and not just so little Emerson can dip her toast in her eggs while enjoying a pancake or two on the side.

“I love their strawberry milkshakes, it’s my pregnancy craving,” said Caume. “I’m really going to miss this place.”

Fall will be when it really hits home for Bell. “During deer season we come in for breakfast every morning. I love their Breakfast Poutine.”

By 9:20 the front room was socially distanced, but full, and the back dining room opened and started to follow suit. It was all-hands-on-deck for the staff who were kept hopping the entire day.

For long-time server Shawna Finn, working her final shift was indeed a sad day.

“I had a cry this morning before we opened, but there isn’t time to think about it now,” she said.

“I’ve been working here eight years this time. It was actually the first job I had as a teenager too, and then I ended up coming back again later. Tomorrow will feel very different.”

When the dust settled the day after his last service, Doulas reflected on the past two weeks as well as his family’s half century in the restaurant business.

“I’m a little tired, but out and enjoying the sunshine,” he said. “The community has been just phenomenal; the last two weeks have been an awesome send-off for our family.”

Gus’ father Peter actually started the MOM Restaurant, which is an acronym for Mother’s Own Method, in Napanee in the early 1970s. Later he opened a second eatery in Picton with the same name. “He sold those locations and we moved to Verona and opened here in 1980-81,” he said.

“My brothers Jimmy and Paul and I have been involved in the restaurant for all of our adult lives.”

The idea to sell has been something they had been discussing as a group for about two years and now the time was finally right. Doulas couldn’t discuss the terms of the deal with the new owners, but did say “some of our trade secrets, like our sauces and gravies, they want to keep them the same.”

He added he will be closely involved in the transition and will help introduce the new team to the community when the process is complete, and everyone is ready.

“I won’t be jumping back into the restaurant business for at least a year or two. Our kids are in their 20s now and done college, so for now it’s going to be all about family for us.”

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