Restaurant of the Week: Country Cafe

COUNTRY CAFE TREATS EVERYONE LIKE FAMILIES: To walk into Country Cafe is like walking into a family gathering. Everyone knows your name, and if they don’t they quickly find out. The food is homemade from scratch, fresh and delicious and made by two longtime cooks. The staff is either family or as close as family, most them having worked at the restaurant since it originally opened in 2002. The faces are all familiar from Culpeper’s culinary past, as the sisters who own and operate Country Cafe have ties to Jenner’s and Jolly Jeff’s to restaurant goers. Sandy Via, Sherry Thornhill and Ann Hume learned the trade from their mother Peggy Hitt, who worked at Jolly Jeff’s for 35 years as a waitress – working the entire time with Country Cafe cook Loretta Grimsley. “I credit mom for instilling our hard work ethic,” Sandy said. “She always worked two jobs and we all started working at a young age and all of us worked two jobs.” Sandy is the primary owner while Sherry opened the business in 2002. Ann and her son Matt Corbin operate the iconic Baby Jim’s Snack Bar across town and Matt ran Country Cafe for two years.  Country Cafe, located at the corner of routes 3 and 15, was once known as Stanley’s and was known as a popular location. It’s maintained that small-town diner feel throughout the years by making the customer’s feel like they’re at home. “The personal service, we treat everyone like family,” Sherry said. “We have some elderly people that we will take food too if they get sick. We have some that come here every single day.” Working with the community is also important to the sisters – they donate a meal every month to the Culpeper Senior Center and have forged meaningful relationships with all their regulars.

“It’s a good meeting place for them and it gets them out of the house,” Sandy said. “It allows them to socialize and of course we like to see them.”

They also help the needy, partnering with local churches and police departments to make sure that if someone is down on their luck, they get special treatment.“We’ve had people who have come in and we know they can’t pay for a hot meal and we’ll pick up the tab for them,” Sandy said.

They also cater, having served Walmart’s Christmas party for every year since opening and providing meals for multiple Ruritan Clubs and churches.

Customers rave about the homemade food – a recent lunch special featured fried chicken livers with a white gravy and mashed potatoes and two sides. The fried okra is a house favorite.

And free pie Friday, with a pie baked by local legend Miss Effie Foster is a highlight as well.

“Not only is it comfort food, but it’s high-quality,” Sandy said. “I shop all over town throughout the week, I get the best cuts of meat I can find – just to offer the customer something different.”

They just started offering Cafe Crab Benedict, with fresh crab from the Tidewater area caught by Matt.

All of it is served with love and lots of laughter, and sometimes even by their regulars.

“If we’re busy and the servers are busy customers will get up and serve coffee to other customers or pitch in and clean tables,” Sandy said.

Regulars also pitch in every Sunday as a group of police officers routinely stop by for breakfast and always have their tab picked up.

Country Cafe is located at 1359 Orange Rd, Culpeper, VA 22701, and can be reached at (540) 829-9966 or by visiting and liking their Facebook page at Country Cafe & Catering.

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