Cleburne Cafeteria still works the old-fashioned way

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HOUSTON, Tx. -- It's hard to imagine nowadays, but once upon a time, neighborhood cafeterias were a part of life in the south. In fact, it wasn't that long ago that a dozen or more dotted the streets around town.

Fresh food and good company, but nobody has much use for the good old days anymore. Unless you're talking about the Cleburne Cafeteria.

"We want you to step into the cafeteria and feel like you're walking back in time," owner George Mickelis said when we stopped by for lunch.

The Cleburne was opened in 1941 by two women who ran it out of an old speakeasy on Cleburne street for more than a decade. Until a day in 1951 when George's mother noticed an ad in the paper for a cafeteria for sale.

63-years later the place on Bissonnet is still doing things the old fashioned way, getting up early and making everything from scratch.

"We make our own mayonaise from scratch," George laughs, "we break the eggs, we pour the oil, we squeeze the lemon juice, we do everything the old fashioned way; if there's a hard way to do something, we do it."

In fact, the Cleburne is so dedicated to making everything themselves, that Chew on This: even the pictures on the wall were painted by George's father, Nick. And though he's been gone for more than 25 years, George's mother Pat still comes everyday to sit under the portrait he painted of her so many years ago.

"It hasn't changed at all," customer Dorothy Conn told us, "George never changes. His mom is just a lovely lady, staff is great and it's just nice to come here."

So if you like you dinner served with a slice of the good-old-days, then this could be your place. But don't bring your credit cards, in a place as pure as this, it's cash and check only.

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