Mother Kelly’s in Cedarhurst is known for its good food, big portions and its three big dining rooms.
But what you may not know is that this family-owned Italian restaurant draws big crowds with special events like comedy night, musical acts, buffets, mahjong get-togethers and even a ventriloquist.
Glenn Gobetz recently talked to Patch about the restaurant, which he runs with his brother, sister and mother.
How long have you been in business?
We’re a third-generation business that opened in 1969. It started with my parents, then their kids and now our kids too. My parents started it back when I was in eighth grade. They lived in Hewlett and got a chance to buy the original store [on Columbia Avenue]. As soon as I finished high school in 1975, I came here full-time.
Have there been many changes to Mother Kelly’s over the years?
We moved to this location in 2000 [Chestnut Street]. It’s nicer headquarters, a better location and bigger. And over there it was more of a pizza place. Over here, it’s more of a restaurant. We’re more into serving dinners now.
Any other changes?
We bought a store in Syosett. My sister runs it. It’s not a full-scale place like this. It’s more of a café and take-out place. My nephews are involved with that one too. Mother Kelly’s has always been a real family thing. My mother still works here, and she’s 80 years old.
Did you always want to get into the family business?
I always wanted to do it. I liked to cook. Then I went to BOCES and learned about restaurants, hospitality and cooking. Here, I’m involved in everything. I do some cooking, I do the ordering. I do a little of everything.
What are some of the restaurant’s most popular items?
That’s easy — our balsamic chicken is the most famous. The customers wait on line for it in the summer. The creamed spinach pizza is a big one too. The gorgonzola salad with our famous house dressing is really popular.
What type of clientele do you have?
We have three generations of customers. The kids grow up, and then they become customers here.
What is your busiest time of the week?
Saturday night is really busy, between about 6 o’clock and 11. Sundays at lunch time are busy too.
What is something that people might not know about Mother Kelly’s?
On weekdays from about 11 to 3, women come in to play mahjong. The ladies love it. For $17, they get the whole back room to play their game, have lunch, soda, dessert and coffee. They come five days a week.
What is the key to your success?
We give you good customer service, good quality food and really big portions. We give value.