After a five-year absence, Maria's Restaurant on Mount Airy's Main Street is back in business.
Owners Dave and Lydia Brocato reopened their family restaurant three weeks ago with a few changes, including a revised menu and some nods to 90s health concerns, including a no-smoking rule.
The Brocatos say business has been good, with many old customers coming back.
"I can't tell you how many people I've seen that used to come in five years ago," Mrs. Brocato said.
The Brocatos closed Maria's in 1989 to spend more time with their three children.
Their children also played a large part in the Brocatos' decision to return to the restaurant business. "The kids wanted money," said Mr. Brocato. "So we figured we might as well put them to work."
The Brocato daughters, Stacy, 16 and Carol, 18, are waitresses at Maria's. Son David, 20, works in the family's catering business.
"I'd rather have them working here," Mr. Brocato said. "It keeps the family together."
XTC The Brocatos spent about two months getting the restaurant ready to reopen. They did most of the work in the evenings, after taking care of their catering clients.
Mr. Brocato credits his children with making the reopening possible.
"This place still wouldn't have been open if it hadn't been for the kids," he said.
He describes Maria's as a family restaurant offering home-style meals at a reasonable price. Dinner entrees range from $4.95 to $9.95.
"So many husbands and wives work today," Mr. Brocato said. "When they come home they don't want to eat sandwiches."
Maria's new dinner menu includes roast turkey and roast chicken dishes, meatloaf and rib eye steak. Mr. Brocato serves freshly baked bread at each table.
He said he learned cooking from his mother and grandmother.
"I've worked in restaurants all my life," he said.
The most important thing he's learned is that treating the customer properly is just as important as the quality of the food.
"It's the personal touch that people enjoy," he said. "After the rush is over in the kitchen, I'll come and say 'hi' to the customers."
"People look for that," he said. "They want to be catered to after a hard day at work."
Maria's is open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Thursday and from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.