Write it down: Gab & Eat in Scott Township has wall-to-wall character

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The writing is on the wall.

From food reviews to names of those who have dined there, people have penned messages about their experience at Gab & Eat Restaurant in Scott.

“It started with celebrities writing on the wall,” says Susan Smith, who co-owns the place with Karie Goedert. “Michael Keaton came in, and we had him sign the wall. But now, everyone signs it.”

Having the freedom to express yourself on the wall or through your voice is one of the reasons customers keep coming back. It's part of the restaurant's ambiance, says Sandy Baxter of Scott, who was having breakfast with husband Roy. The couple has eaten there almost every weekday for 15 to 20 years.

Gab & Eat serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week. It's a diner-type atmosphere with a long counter, tables and booths for dining. Drinks and food are served in mismatched cups and plates. Customers often bring in unwanted mugs and dishes, Smith says.

“Sometimes, the waitress will pick out special mugs for us,” Sandy Baxter says.

The couple doesn't have a favorite food item because, they say, everything is good. They do have a special booth.

“You get great food, great service and it's a fun place to come,” Roy Baxter says. “They know you when you walk through the door. You can't beat this place.”

Gab & Eat has been in business for 32 years. Fourteen years ago, Smith bought the restaurant with Goedert's husband. After Joe Goedert died suddenly of a heart attack in 2005, his wife left her job as a manager at a dental practice and joined Smith.

“Joe is probably thinking he can't believe I am doing this, but I think he would be proud that I am,” Goedert says.

People come from all over, including Florida and California, as well as the regulars. The place has character, Roy Baxter says.

The atmosphere isn't the only reason customers keep coming back. The amount of quality food for a reasonable price has a lot to do with it.

Goedert and Smith use fresh ingredients. From burgers made from Black Angus meat to fresh fish and house made soups. There are eight burger choices from plain to Cajun. Prices start at $5.05. Try a John Boy sandwich, which has hot sausage, egg, cheese, peppers and onions on Italian toast for $6.55. They also serve hoagies and club sandwiches. There are daily specials, Mondays through Fridays.

On weekends, customers are lined up outside.

“We appreciate that people are willing to wait, and our goal to make sure the wait is worth it, by giving them a fun dining experience along with generous portions,” Goedert says.

That's evident with the build-your-own-mixed grill. It is a combination of ham, bacon or sausage and four other items from cheese, potatoes, peppers, eggs or onions that fills the entire plate for $11.15.

The “Hey Ray” is a sandwich with home fries and creamy coleslaw on top. Prices start at $3.80 for a regular sandwich and an additional $1.25 to make it a “Hey Ray.”

For dessert, try a creation by Smith, who owned a bakery. Her four-layer chocolate cake has white icing in between each layer and on top and chocolate icing on the sides and tastes like a Hostess Ho Ho. She also makes coconut cream pie using fresh pudding and other delicious pastries.

“You can't always get homemade desserts,” Smith says. “I feel like we do have something unique. Everyone who works here is willing to help each other out, which creates a fun working environment.”

Breakfast includes everything from French toast, eggs, sausage, bacon and toast to pancakes, which fill the plate. On weekends, they go through eight cases of eggs — that's 60 dozen eggs — and 33 loaves of bread each day.

Workers greet customers as they walk in the door, often sharing a conversation.

“We are like the bar in ‘Cheers' where everyone knows your name, but without the alcohol,” Goedert says. “Our customers are like part of our family.”

Larry Lewis says the workers are his support group.

“If I am having a bad day, I come in here and they make my day better,” says Lewis of Scott, a customer for at least 20 years. “It is like a family here. And the food is really good. They even give me food to take for my dog.”

Gab & Eat Restaurant is located at 1073 Washington Ave., in the Glen Scott Shopping Center in Scott. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays; 6 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Sundays. The restaurant does not accept credit cards, but has an ATM machine available. Details: 412-276-8808 or www.gabneat.com

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at jharrop@tribweb.com or 412-320-7889.

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