Craving a hot breakfast or home-cooked comfort food topped off with a slice of homemade pie? Stop into Peg’s Place Restaurant where owner Bob Johnson is following in his mother Peg’s footsteps. While Peg still makes the pies from scratch weekly, Bob runs the diner, a magnet for regulars from the Southtowns.
Good food and quick service in a friendly atmosphere keep customers coming back – some every day of the week.
As Johnson gears up for his busiest time of the year, which runs from Valentine’s Day through summer, he took time to talk about his tricks of the trade.
Question: You seat 110 people and often every seat is taken. How do you serve so much food so fast when customers are lining up at the door?
Johnson: When we started my son was born four days after we opened, so I know what it’s like for a family to go out to eat. It’s important to get the food out fast. We are heavily staffed and we have a person at every station so one cooks eggs, one cooks meat, one makes toast – everyone has their own part.
Q: Is breakfast your busiest meal?
A: Breakfast is what we’re known for. A ton of people go to the beach and out to the lake and they’ll stop in for good homemade food. We’re also known for our pies. My mom still bakes 30-40 pies a week. She’s semi-retired.
Q: How many of your customers are regulars?
A: Seventy-five percent of our customers come in three to four times a week. We have a lot of regulars. It’s funny - some guys come in here seven days a week for breakfast. Some come back for lunch with their wives.
Q: How did you attract such a loyal following in Hamburg?
A: My mom actually started the restaurant at Camp and Legion in the 1980s and was there until 1993. We reopened in 2003 and we’re pushing 15 years at this location and 24 total in the Town of Hamburg. We’re tremendously lucky.
We have 40 employees and it’s like I have 40 brothers and sisters. We’re like family. Our slogan is "Our family serving your family."
Q: Do a lot of those meals feature comfort food?
A: Yes. We have specials of the day that are classic, old school dishes. On Monday, we have goulash, Tuesday is meat loaf, Wednesday is chicken and biscuits, Thursday is pasta night and Friday we have our fish fries. Then on Saturday we have prime rib specials.
Q: With so many choices, what is your top seller?
A: Our number 5 breakfast is popular. It’s eggs, toast, home fries, your choice of bacon, sausage or ham, with juice, and your choice of pancakes, waffles or French toast. Sometimes we’ll do a special pancake or French toast. We had a stuffed French toast with peanut butter and bananas that was a hit.
Q: How often do you update the menu?
A: We’ve added on different ideas though 75 to 80 percent of our menu is exactly the same as when we opened. It will be 15 years in May. We are looking at more gluten-free options and try to be healthier.
Q: Have you noticed any other new restaurant trends?
A: Something that increased in the last couple of years is catering. We just booked our 14th wedding for this summer. We never expected that, but we hit a niche there with catering. It can be drop off or full service.
INFO: Peg's Place Restaurant, 4046 Lake Shore Road, Hamburg (627-7800). Open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
*Read Elizabeth Carey's previous interview, with Comfort Zone Cafe: