I had the great good pleasure of speaking with Jeanne (‘Jeannie’) Carrell, the proud owner, with her husband Don, of Fairview Farms.
Jeanne had been the manager of the place for 15 years prior to purchasing the place from the former owners who have relocated to Oklahoma.
Fairview Farms, once you find it, is kind of hidden an a residential area. The place was actually the former home of the previous owner’s grandmother/grandmother in law. The restaurant started in 1952, selling chicken dinners like gangbusters!
I will really tell you more on the restaurant in a bit. I should tell you first about Jeanne.
She started in the restaurant business at age……………………12, yes, that’s right. She is 50 now, so she knows her way around the restaurant kitchen, back of the store, and the front of the store for years now. She actually started in Florida as ‘The Pie Girl’ cutting slices of pie prior to serving. She then went on to become The Salad Girl, then Sous Chef, then Pasty Chef, and now owner and manager of their very own place. Prior to working at
Fairview Jeanne was the manager at Lindsay’s on Liberty, and the Creve Coeur Club in Peoria.
When I asked about food trends when she started in the business in Florida her first comment was Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chick-Fil-A. She has been at the chicken fryer --- or at least around it for decades. French Cuisine was also hot. She, herself, was trained by a Hungarian chef, and he helped make her an expert in pastries. I asked her what she sees as the current trend. She immediately said: Fried Chicken served Family Style, just like Fairview Farms has been serving since 1952, and many other home-cooked type meals, more comfort foods are popular.
Healthy foods are huge now.
Many, many restaurant owners have told me the very same thing. Fairview Farms is taking advantage of that trend, and they have started offering lunches, with a hot buffet from Thursda through Saturday, including fried and baked chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, home done entrees, home done salads, home done vegetable dishes, and soups. They do recognize that fried chicken is a guilty pleasure for many. Some will have it every week. Get this, they sell an average of 23,000 pounds of chicken every 6 months.
Do the math : at an average weight of 3 pounds per chicken, that’s 7,666 chickens that give their lives for this one restaurant alone.
She expects their lunches will continue to gain in popularity. They are located pretty close to a number of larger employer offices and the local population is finding the availability of great home cooked food a goldmine ---- and it saves them TIME.
They have always worked long days to provide for their customers --- really, 16-18 hour days are average. Her staff has always been a tremendous help. They have a fry cook with 7 years tenure, some wait staff with 8 years, and their cook for 10 years. That is rare in the restaurant business. Like many other spots she does find some applicants and workers with a less established work ethic and she finds that a bit surprising and disappointing.
All in all she finds the business incredibly rewarding and she loves joking with her long and loyal customers.
Fairview Farms is in gradual re-furbishing mode. The décor has become a bit dated, but Don has had lots of experience in construction, and the change and updating has become a family affair. Stay tuned. They will update the look and ambiance of the place while they update and tweak the menu. They want you to visit them soon.
Oh, and order the chicken ---- everyone else does !!!
Fairview Farms 309 697-4111 ~ www.fairview-farm.com
5911 Heuermann Road - just north of the airport.