The Four Way Country Cafe, located at the 4-way stop in Dutton, has a little something for everyone who loves a good and fast meal.
Karen Brooks, owner and cook, has spent a large portion of her life working in and operating restaurants. As a single mother, she found that there weren’t many good jobs in this area, but working at a restaurant was a good fit for her since she had always loved to cook.
“You had to work,” she said. “There’s not much around here, but I like to cook and I like people. I used to run the old 76 Truck Stop in Fort Payne and I really liked it.”
After that, Brooks left the restaurant for nearly 10 years to work with Rehab Partners.
“I liked it, but I wanted to take all of the patients home with me,” she joked.
Brooks has since remarried to her current husband Dwight, and said that now that the kids are out of the house she can go back to doing what she really loves, which is running a restaurant.
She operated her own restaurant in Guntersville for a few years, but one year and nine months ago returned to Sand Mountain to open her cafe.
“It’s been here since the 70s, but it’s been open and closed and open and closed,” Brooks said of her current location. “It hadn’t had a restaurant in two years before I took it. It’s like getting it all started again.”
The food, which is all prepared by Brooks, is hot and fresh. Brooks said you can call in your order, but most people just walk up to the window and order, just like at old-fashioned dairy bars.
“I patty out my own hamburgers, and it’s a big burger,” Brooks said. “And I bread my own chicken fingers.”
The cafe has many other favorites, like catfish filets and bbq. One dish Brooks said she would recommend is her Philly chicken.
“It’s a grilled chicken sandwich with peppers, onions and Swiss cheese,” Brooks said. “It’s just like a Philly steak, except with chicken.”
Brooks also makes homemade milk shakes, and even offers a peanut butter milk shake. Occasionally, she will make hot fudge cake sundae’s, and has toyed with the idea of offering fresh doughnuts.
“I tried doing doughnuts one day. I still do that occasionally, because when you’ve got fresh grease in the deep fryer you can just drop fresh doughnuts in. I’ve had a few people come back and ask if I have anymore,” she said.
The wait at the cafe isn’t long. Usually it just takes three minutes to make one of Brooks’ delicious burgers.
“I’ve had people tell me they had to wait in line longer at McDonald’s,” Brooks joked.
She still has a relatively new business, but Brooks has a lot of ideas for her cafe. In the future, Brooks said she would like to offer plate lunches, with a meat and three sides. And, she said, she would love to partner with someone and host a car show.
For now, Brooks is happy running her one-woman cafe.
“It’s a small operation, so I don’t get too overwhelmed,” she said.
She still has other ambitions though.
“My dream is to run a bed and breakfast,” she said.
Until then, she said she hopes new customers will stop by and try her cooking.
“Give small businesses a chance,” she said. “ You know what you’re getting when you go (to larger fast food chains), but you’d know what you’d be getting here too if you came.”
The cafe is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. until 7 p.m. To call in an order, call 256-599-5010