Patti’s Thunder is a popular breakfast and lunch place in Quincy, but to owner Patti DeCoe it feels more like her living room because she thinks of her employees and regular customers as family.
Patti and her former husband, Darold, owned and operated the restaurant, which was then called Morning Thunder, from 1992 until 2007.
After a five-year break, Patti reopened the eatery solo in spring 2012, with a slight tweak to its name.
“My biggest fear was the first few months,” said Patti. Although she had worked at the restaurant for 15 years previously, she had run the front of the restaurant, while her husband had managed the kitchen.
Now Patti can do it all — and she does. She rotates through the tasks and takes her turn at seating customers, waitressing, cooking on the line, washing dishes and vacuuming.
“It’s the only way that I can know what is really going on and what my employees need,” Patti said.
For example, once when she was working the line, she noticed that people had to share tongs, which sometimes slowed the service, so she bought more utensils for her staff.
When she waits on customers Patti can monitor the food as it is being served.
“Consistency is so important to me,” she said, and discusses the importance of consistent taste, presentation and portion size.
Patti opens at 7 a.m. and serves breakfast all day, though the lunch hour is the busiest time at the restaurant.
The three most popular menu items are huevos rancheros, vegetaters (a mixture of potatoes, vegetables and cheese) and chicken-fried steak.
Of the latter, Patti said, “People say all the time that it’s ‘the best they ever had.’”
The menu includes a host of breakfast foods, soup, salads, sandwiches, espresso coffee drinks and specials of the day. Patti’s Thunder is also known for its French roast.
When asked what trends she has observed in the restaurant over the years, Patti said that since the economic downturn, people aren’t dining out as frequently and when they do “it’s definitely a treat.”
She has also witnessed the eating trends that have evolved from “no carbs” to “vegan” to “gluten free.” “There’s usually something that everyone can have here,” she said of her varied menu.
Patti’s Thunder has a loyal local following, but, like most businesses in the county, it needs the tourist trade.
“Our biggest day of the year is the Monday following the High Sierra Music Fest,” Patti said. “Last year we served more than 400 meals. It took all of the employees; we all kind of look forward to it.”
Patti has a core staff of eight and adds seasonal help for the summer. Many of her employees have been with her for years, including her manager, Jessica, and chefs Clint and Kyle.
“I have a wonderful crew,” she said. “We don’t have much of a turnover.”
Though she has a talented crew, and can take extended vacations, she knows that her customers appreciate it when she’s around.
“People like to see you here,” Patti said, of being the owner. And that suits her just fine, because being at the restaurant feels a lot like being at home.