Under one roof
MANSON — Deb Huntsinger’s first job was at a place called the Corner Cafe in Manson. And she’s spent a lot of time in the food service industry since then.
“I’ve done it for over 40 years,” she said. “Started when I was 13.”
Now Huntsinger is in a position where she’s providing others their chance at a first job.
Huntsinger opened Debbie’s Cafe and Pizzeria, 926 Main St., on Feb. 3.
On a recent day, she sat down at one of the high top tables to figure out the next week’s work schedule.
“I have to work around the golf and soccer schedule to see who can work,” she said.
Huntsinger employs 10 people, most of whom are high school students.
“We are still in the process of training the help,” Huntsinger said. “We have young help. Most of them this is their first job. You have get them trained on the register and making ice cream. Mostly people have been patient with the kids learning.”
Cole Smothers works as assistant manager.
He said the cafe offers a wide variety of treats and eats.
Pizza, pasta, subs, coffee and ice cream, are all on the menu. Breakfast food is also offered in the mornings, including but not limited to pancakes, eggs, omelets, french toast and hash browns.
“People really come around for our pizzas,” he said. “We have different sizes and crusts to choose from.”
Huntsinger said the Hawaiian chicken barbecue and the jalapeno popper pizza are very popular.
“I created the Hawaiian chicken barbecue about 20 years ago when I was in South Dakota,” she said. “And we put our own twist on the jalapeno popper pizza — that comes with the cream cheese base, the bacon and the jalapenos. We sell a lot of them.”
“Our other popular one is the Philly cheesesteak pizza. We serve that one with AuJu dip.”
She said customers can choose between thin and crispy or hand-tossed.
Pasta provides plenty of choices for customers, too. The restaurant offers lasagna, baked spaghetti, spaghetti and meatballs, grilled chicken alfredo, grilled shrimp alfredo, cajun chicken alfredo and cajun shrimp alfredo.
“My personal favorite is probably the chicken alfredo,” Smothers said. “I probably eat that more than I should.”
In terms of subs, customers can choose cold or toasted. The ultimate club, ham and cheese, tuna salad, veggie and others, are cold options.
Meatball, French dip, Italian, chicken bacon ranch and philly steak and cheese, make for good toasted subs.
Ice cream includes tornados, which are are like Dairy Queen Blizzards.
“We call them tornados because Manson was hit by the tornados in 79′,” Huntsinger said.
Specialty sundaes include turtle, rocky road, banana split and others.
Specialty coffees include blended vanilla chai, caramel/white chocolate latte and white chocolate/raspberry latte. Iced coffee includes caramel, white chocolate, french vanilla and dark mocha.
Breakfast is currently served Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and on Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. But Huntsinger said that could change if business doesn’t pick up in the mornings.
“We might stop breakfast on Tuesday, Wedensday and Thursday,” she said. “It’s a possibility. I can’t do this with one or two customers coming in. You lose more trying to turn everything on. So then we would open at 10:30 a.m. instead of our normal hours. We would do lunch with everything and going straight into supper hour.”
Sundays tend to be the busiest day of the week.
“We run two cooks on Sundays because we are too busy to run one,” Huntsinger said.
Huntsinger used to own Eagle Lanes and Lounge. But COVID-19 derailed that venture.
“COVID shut us down at Eagle Lanes,” Huntsinger said. “So we couldn’t keep it going. We were there for two years.”
Then, for a time, Huntsinger owned Cups ‘n Cones.
“It was a little building just right down the road,” she said. “We did subs and cones out of there. It was a nice little spot but we couldn’t stay open in the winter. We ended up buying this and putting everything under one building.”
The building wss purchased for $55,000 in the fall of 2020, according to the Calhoun County Assessor’s website.
It underwent an extensive remodel that took about three months to complete.
“We took walls out,” Huntsinger said. “It looks totally different than it did.”
She got some unexpected help from some muscle in the community.
“Getting everything moved under one building was the biggest struggle,” she said. “We actually had the Manson (Northwest Webster High School) football team help us with the moving. That was really nice. They spent an afternoon because they didn’t have practice that day. And Eagle Lanes had a lot of stairs, so..”
Debbie’s offers carryout, free delivery and curbside.
“We do a lot of takeouts and deliveries,” Huntsinger said. “We seem to get more of the takeout than the dine in.”
Almost all of her time is spent at the cafe.
“I work 17-hour days,” she said. “Open to close. I make bread in the mornings. We started doing pies. We have cinnamon rolls daily that we make. And of course we make all of our own sub bread.”
Huntsinger is looking forward to some warmer weather in the summer.
“In the summer we will be leasing the two lots next to us so we can put picnic tables out there and they can sit outside under the canopies,” she said. “We are looking at a walkup window and outdoor seating for those that don’t want to be inside.”
Debbie’s is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.