Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey (5:04 a.m.)

Published 4:28 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A melodic doorbell chimes twice just as Christy Oliver cracks two eggs onto a slate black grill.

“Most of the guys that come in early in the morning are regulars, so it becomes like your family,” Oliver said. “There’s a couple of them I have to let in the door at 10 minutes till five, and I almost always have their plates already sitting on the table.”

Oliver is a waitress at Donna’s Café in Calera. Her day starts at 4:15 a.m., as she makes her way inside the restaurant to prepare biscuits for the morning rush. Her day ends around 3:30 p.m.

Ask any Calera native about the restaurant’s heydays, and they will tell you that for a long time you couldn’t find anything that compared.

David Turquitt of Calera stops in for breakfast frequently.

“I’ve been coming in here for 25-30 years through all of the different owners,” Turquitt said. “When you get up as early as I do, you’ve got to have something to fill your stomach.”

Turquitt heads off to work, driving a truck inside the Chemical Lime plant just before 7 a.m. Even he knows that’s not early compared to some.

Jamie Brice basically stops by for dinner. His shift at a local concrete plant started at 11 p.m. He’ll get off at 7 a.m., and head home with a full stomach of Dr. Pepper and eggs fried up by Oliver.

The restaurant has changed hands a few times in the last two years. Its new owner, Kairm Merchant, craves a day when those customers come pouring back in for a strong cup of coffee, small talk and food to fuel their day.

“The place was somewhat famous for the food it served,” Merchant said. “I want to try and build that business back up.”