Up early at the Eliza Kountry Kafe

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It's just after 6 on a Tuesday morning. There's darkness everywhere, but the lights are on at the Eliza Kountry Kafe.

"I think I'm in a prime spot," said owner Vickie Fitchner.

Vickie moves around like a whirlwind.

"Ten-hour days," she said.

On the job since 4 a.m., she makes breakfast customers feel right at home.

"I call it a home cooked meal because everything we do is basically from scratch and fresh," she said.

The informal setting is just right for families and popular community get-togethers.

"I used to tell people you have to show up, or they'll talk about you," said original owner Chris Neeld, who still enjoys breakfast there most days. "I don't want to be talked about, so I have to be here every day."

Friendly, definitely, but get ready to help out.

"If it's empty, they're supposed to make coffee," Vickie said.

New arrivals should also pour coffee for everybody while waiting for breakfast.

"I ordered a half a mess with wheat toast," said Ron Morrison.

"It's huge," added Steve Morrison.

"You get your hash browns, sausage, peppers and onions," Vickie said. "When the hash browns are done, we mix it all together and put an egg on it."

Opening in 1984, regulars have been coming back ever since.

"There's not too many restaurants in small towns any more," Steve said.

It's Vickie's second stint as owner. Add it all up, she's worked here for 23 years.

"I was the waitress," she recalled. "And then I got into the cooking part. I didn't want to go back on that floor."

Vickie is serving up success on plate at a time, and it tastes even better at the Eliza Kountry Kafe.

That sense of family really makes it special. Regulars and first-timers feel comfortable.

"Just kind of like a home away from home, so to speak," Neeld said.

Everybody wants the cafe to continue. This is one case where things should stay the same.

"I don't want to change it," Vickie said. "There's no expanding, hah! We're busy enough."

An early start for a warm welcome at the Eliza Kountry Kafe.

It's open from 6 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday. You'll find it at 649 155th Avenue. It's actually a New Boston address since Eliza does not have a post office.

Favorites include a chicken lunch buffet on Tuesdays and a fish fry from 4-8 on Fridays.