Cheap Eats: Mary Jane's holds true to traditional dishes
When the current owners bought Mary Jane's Restaurant about five years ago, they didn't change much.
"It wasn't (broken), so we weren't going to try to fix it," said Matt Kale, who owns the West Manchester Township restaurant with his wife, Danielle, and mother-in-law, Diana Rhodes.
The restaurant serves up home-style, traditional York County cooking. Its menu triggers my earliest recollection of a diner, with items such as liver and onions, breaded veal with brown gravy, and grilled Reuben sandwiches. It reminded me of restaurants that I went to with my grandparents when I was a kid.
I ordered a hot turkey sandwich on wheat bread with a side of mixed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. It was a cold, rainy day, and I needed a little comfort food.
I sat in a booth overlooking vehicles speeding down Route 30 as I waited just a few minutes for my order. The restaurant has a homey, country feel to it with plaid hunter green and maroon curtains, and vintage Coca-Cola Co. signs hanging above a window into the kitchen.
The turkey was freshly carved, thick and tender. I ordered the gravy on the side and dipped each bite. I don't like too much gravy on anything, but I enjoyed the taste in small amounts.
Kale said the eatery's traditional menu pulls in its clientele, which tends to be mostly senior citizens. However, more middle-aged customers have been coming in recently.
The owners do try to add a little variety to the menu. They offer weekend specials Friday through Sunday, as well as chicken potpie every Thursday and hogmaw every Wednesday. Kale said their best-selling dishes are usually stuffed chicken, meatloaf and shrimp.
"It's that old traditional food that a lot of people grew up on, and that's slowly disappearing," Kale said. "People enjoy it, and it takes them back to the older days when they were growing up."
They also added more homemade desserts to the menu. Danielle Kale and Rhodes bake cakes and pies all week. They make lemon-sponge, shoofly and chocolate-peanut-butter pies, among a dessert case full of others.
Matt Kale said their desserts have become their calling card.
"They're homemade," he said. "It's a drastic difference than when you order something in from a wholesaler and then you sit a homemade pie beside it."
Cheap Eats profiles local restaurants with meals for less than $10. Suggestions are welcome. Reach Leigh Zaleski at 771-2101, firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you go
LOCATION: Mary Jane's Restaurant, 4345 W. Market St. in West Manchester Township
LEIGH'S PICK: Hot turkey sandwich with broccoli, cauliflower and carrots ($6.95)
HOURS: 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays
PRICE RANGE: 85 cents to $16.25
ACCEPTS: Cash and credit
KID'S MENU: Yes
DETAILS: Call 792-0796