Alabaster restaurant cooks it from Scratch

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Local drivers traveling to and from work on U.S. 31 in Alabaster likely have noticed signs advertising what may sound like a kitchen scene from an old-fashioned family reunion.

For more than a month, owner Jon Kennamer and his staff have been transforming the Scratch restaurant off U.S. 31 in Saginaw into a building filled with the sights and smells of a vintage home-cooking restaurant.

“Most of our food is prepared from scratch right here,” Kennamer said of his restaurant, which occupies the former White House restaurant location near the intersection of U.S. 31 and Shelby County 26. “We didn’t want to just open the same old restaurant.”

Scratch currently is open only for breakfast and lunch, and serves items such as freshly made biscuits and pancakes, roast beef and homemade mashed potatoes.

Since the restaurant opened on Jan. 17, the owners have been relying mostly on word-of-mouth advertising, which has begun to pay off Kennamer said.

“Word-of-mouth advertising is probably the most cost-effective way to get the word out,” Kennamer said with a laugh. “We have had more customers coming in every week since we’ve been open.

“We figured a healthy alternative to every other restaurant out there would be popular,” Kennamer added.

Kennamer said many of the restaurant’s customers are surprised when he tells them nearly everything offered at Scratch holds true to the business’ name.

“The reception has been good so far,” Kennamer said. “I was surprised how many people come in at lunch and ask if our potatoes are instant.

“We peel our own potatoes and make everything by hand,” he added. “There is a lot more prep work involved, and it is much more labor-intensive, but the quality is better.”

Because of the restaurant’s location near the intersection of two high-traffic roads, the business’ main clientele consists of those making breakfast stops on their way to work and local businesspeople who come in for their lunch breaks, Kennamer said.

The restaurant currently is open only for the first two meals of the day, but Kennamer said he may expand Scratch’s hours in the future if business continues to increase.

“I’d say 75 percent of our business comes from people who are on their way to work or who stop in during their lunch break,” Kennamer said.

Because the Scratch restaurant is about 4,000 square feet, it has the capacity to host large private parties and seat up to 200 patrons.

“(Joe’s Italian owner) Papa Joe (Bertolone) recently had his 70th birthday get-together here,” Kennamer said.

For more information about Scratch, call the restaurant at 621-1606 or visit Eatscratch.com.