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Sisters living dream of parents

August 30, 1998

Sisters open restaurantBy KERRY LYNN FRALEY / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer [enlarge]




HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - From an early age, Rosetta Sanbower remembers her parents, Richard E. and Phyllis Keller, talking about opening a restaurant.

"They would sit down, and Dad would draw up blueprints. They'd talk about how the layout would be, what kinds of food they'd have," said Sanbower, 38, of Hedgesville.

The couple's dream was tragically stifled when Richard Keller fell down a flight of stairs and was paralyzed from the neck down, said Sanbower's sister, Billi Jo Chambers.

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His wife had to care for him until he died in 1989, said Chambers, 26, of Hedgesville.

The dream didn't die with him.

After years of talking about it themselves, the Kellers' four daughters - Sanbower, Chambers, Kathy Valentine and Lisa Baldridge - are making it a reality with a new restaurant set to open Tuesday in Hedgesville's Eagle Plaza.

Keller's Family Restaurant will serve "home-style" breakfast, lunch and dinner, including pancakes made from a recipe Richard Keller learned as an Army cook and Phyllis Keller's homemade pies, soups and slippery pot pie, they said.

"We named it after Mom and Dad, probably what they would have named it," said Sanbower, who quit her job as a waitress to devote all her energy to the business. Her three sisters, who have been working together at a different restaurant, also quit their jobs, she said.

Opening a restaurant was a dream for each of the sisters, Sanbower said.

"I guess from all of us hearing it from them all of our lives, it was something we kind of wanted to do," she said.

After years of talk and sporadic searches for a place to open their restaurant, everything finally came together when a real estate agent showed them the Eagle Plaza spot, said Valentine, the eldest sister.

"It was funny how it happened. The doors just kind of opened up. It was there," said Valentine, 43, of Martinsburg, W.Va., who is in charge of the grill.

Phyllis Keller, who lives in Martinsburg, will help do preparation in the kitchen and do some of the cooking, she said.

Baldridge and Sanbower will wait tables.

Valentine's daughters, Stephanie, 21, April, 19, and Dawn, 19, will help when needed.

Chambers will be the "floater," serving as hostess, helping out in the kitchen and waiting tables when needed, and taking care of the ordering and paperwork.

Sanbower's son, Craig, 19, will man the dishwasher.

Phyllis Keller has been enthusiastic about the restaurant from the beginning, Sanbower said.

If she hadn't been, they wouldn't have proceeded, she said.

"Since we've gotten this, that's the most alive I've seen Mom since Dad passed away," Valentine said.

Restaurant hours are 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 to 10 a.m. Sunday.

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