The menu is stacked with buttermilk pancakes, berry pies and anything smothered in gravy.

Yet it’s not so much the food, but the friendliness and sincerity people come back for again and again and again.

There is no one to impress here, but always someone to talk to.

An elderly woman sitting alone in a booth curiously peered over the wall separating her and two men wearing button-down collared shirts with a city patch stitched at their breasts.

“G’morning,” she said.

They nodded, “Good morning.”

“Work for the city,” the woman said. “Good for you.”

The customers of Kermit’s Family Restaurant continued to enjoy their orders of short stack pancakes, steak n’ eggs and sausage and gravy. Being interrupted during breakfast is usual -and expected.

Barbara Maas, owner of Kermit’s, said chain restaurants are lacking in what keeps her customers coming for more, and it’s not

“BG’s only 50-cent coffee.”

“It’s a nice atmosphere. It’s nothing fancy,” Mass said. “But, it’s friendly.”

Maas and her husband, Jim, always wanted to own a restaurant. In 1987, the Custar couple purchased the 307 S. Main St. building and renovated it to create a new addition to downtown Bowling Green.

“It had been a long dream of ours to have a restaurant of our own,” Mrs. Maas said. “We wanted something small that would be comfortable for people to come to.” And people did.

“As I remember it was a beautiful Sunday morning. Our first customer was Walt,” Mrs. Maas said.

Fifteen years later, Maas is reminded of her first client from the first dollar earned hanging on the wall.

Loring Todd, also from Custar, has been pushing his way through the squeaky Kermit’s door since day one.

“It’s something I do everyday,” Todd said. “I don’t think about it. I just do it.”

Like most customers, Todd has made Kermit’s part of his daily routine.

“I know what I’m going to get is what I want,” Todd said.

But Kermit’s employees already know the ‘regulars.’

“Loring gets eggs and toast everyday, but Saturdays he adds sausage,” said head waitress Tammy Stahl. “I know this place like the back of my hand.”

Stahl in her 11th year serving for Kermit’s said she enjoys the comfort of all the familiar faces.

“It’s really nice to have everyone know who you are,” Stahl said. Budge and Jean Vollmar of Bowling Green have been coming in every day for the past four years “’cause we don’t like to cook at home. It’s good food, good service and reasonable,” Mrs. Vollmar said.

“I think if we didn’t come in they’d miss us,” Mr. Vollmar said. When Stahl sees the Vollmar couple driving down Pearl Street, she prepares their usual order of sausage, eggs, oatmeal and toast.

“She does it all,” Mrs. Vollmar said. “She runs the place.”

A place where anyone is welcome.

The booths are filled with different people, living different lives, especially at 9 a.m. While one suit and tie man sipped his coffee and punched on his laptop, a quiet couple in BGSU coats wiped their plates one booth over.

City workers rushed in with their potatoes-sack over-hauls, to eat a quick bite during their 15-minute morning break.

Stahl said customers range from policemen, factory workers, widows, college students and families.

“Everyone feels comfortable,” Mrs. Maas said. “People like the personal service, the specials and the homemade pie.”

The Maas’ daughter, Cassy, makes all of the pies.

“She makes the best pie you’ve ever eaten,” Mrs. Maas said. Cassy isn’t the only family member who joined the Kermit’s staff.

Her 14-year-old daughter works on the weekends as a busser.

Mrs. Maas said the family working together toward a common goal is very important to her.

“Jim and I both come from very large families and it makes a difference when your family is together,” Maas said.

But, you don’t have to be a Maas to be part of the Kermit’s family. The small staff is a close knit- so close, Stahl’s children call Mr. Maas, “Uncle Jim.”

Mrs. Maas said the restaurant is ‘part of her blood’ and she’s satisfied with what the Kermit’s family has accomplished. “To think we made it into this,” she said. “I feel a sense of pride.”