Marie Brown’s first adventure in food prep was a misadventure. She was Marie Alexander then and only 6 years old when she insisted on helping her father, William, peel potatoes. She cut her finger and ran and hid so he wouldn’t know.
She’s not hiding anymore. In fact, she’s highly visible as the owner and chief cook at Marie’s, the new restaurant she opened on McAlpine Street in Duryea last month.
The opening was a long time coming. Motorists on the busy thoroughfare have been watching this sign in the window of an old factory at 207 McAlpine St.: “Marie’s Restaurant Coming Soon.”
“Soon” turned into 14 months. It took that long to transform the building — where hundreds of buckets overflowed with rainwater coming in through the roof — into a sparkling new restaurant. She and her husband and son, both named Matthew, did most of the work with a little help from their friends.
Her son repurposed wood found throughout the large building into a counter and booths. The line and pass shelve are open and inviting. They hauled equipment from Chickie’s, later Marie’s, on Lonesome Road in Old Forge, Marie’s former business which she leased for eight years, and installed new equipment.
Business has been decent thanks to the curiosity spurred by the “coming soon” sign, word-of-mouth and loyalty from Chickie’s customers. Stan Waleski of Avoca is one of the later. He’s had breakfast and lunch at Marie’s since she opened. His favorite is pigs-in-the-blanket.
“The food is excellent,” Waleski said. “The place is beautiful. They have good food, good service and nice people. Marie is a wonderful person.”
Marie’s is a traditional family restaurant, with the emphasis on family. She makes her own homemade soups, scrapple, corned beef hash, wiener sauce and SOS, sirloin or chipped beef styles, from old family recipes. Recipes used in the restaurant, from coleslaw to tripe, have come down from both sides of her Italian family, as well as her husband’s Polish side.
Her family has a legendary food pedigree. Her great-grandfather and great-granduncle, Giuseppe and Sante Agostini, founded Agostini’s Bakery in Old Forge in the early 1900s.
A hearty breakfast at Marie’s comes with a choice of hash browns or homefries. Sandwich offerings include a variety of clubs. Check out the daily specials.
For now, Marie’s is open only for breakfast and lunch, 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday; 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.
She wants to expand to evening dinner hours when things “settle down,” as she put it. She also has space for a future banquet room.
Marie’s can seat 80 in the large front dining room and at the L-shaped counter. Right now she has a staff of 10. Her daughter Angeline, one of her four kids, helps out on the line.
Despite her extensive experience as a cook, Marie said she is always learning. Her goal, she said, “is to stay consistent.”