Family-owned Norwell brunch spot Strawberry Fair celebrates its 40th anniversary on Dec. 7. The date is special for many reasons: It’s the year that owner Pat McKinley’s parents, Gene and Bill Mahoney, opened up shop (the Mahoneys and their children built the exposed wood interior themselves); and it’s the day McKinley’s son and weekend chef, Casey McKinley, married the restaurant’s former bus-girl, Josi Bavil, in 2008.
McKinley stepped up as restaurant manager after her father’s death in 1978, and her mother’s subsequent return to her hometown in Texas. “My being here was going to be a part-time venture,” McKinley says. “Well, that was 30 years ago.” The quaint spot, which also serves Friday and Saturday dinners, originally opened as a tea room. “My mother would give painting lessons upstairs,” says McKinley. Now, Gene Mahoney’s art adorns the dining room. The business evolved from small craft-shop to family-friendly dining. “We have a lot of favorite customers who come in to see us,” says waitress Carol Folk. “They’re not here just to eat.”
The business kept going over the years, even as the rural town changed and an ambling road turned into a highway. For a week starting Dec. 7, menu classics such as meatloaf, egg and tuna sandwiches, and a daily dessert — strawberry shortcake will make an appearance — are being offered at their original 1975 prices. For McKinley, the patrons and staff who mill about, day in and day out, are her primary focus. At this restaurant, family and customers are everything. Strawberry Fair Restaurant, 14 Pond St., Norwell, 781-878-7878, www.thestrawberryfair.com