Hattie’s is an ode to a family history filled with restaurant glory. Some think it may have started in 1939 with the very first “Aunt Hattie’s” built in St. Petersburg, FL by Ed and Hattie Boore along with their son Frank. Actually it started years before that with a small, summer-season-only bed and breakfast called “The Elms”. It was located on the shores of Lake Erie just outside of the small town of Dunnville, Ontario, Canada. That is where, for the Boore family, everything related to food service and customer service began.
Frank was just 14 years old when his parents closed the B&B for the last time, left their life in Buffalo, NY and headed south to St. Petersburg. It is there that he and his parents built a business that would become famous for everything from fresh baked pies and cakes, fried chicken, burgers, or even their famous chicken and dumplings all the way to a lobby filled with antiques and a treasure chest filled with free toys for the children who cleaned their plates. Good food and unique décor alone is not what turned Aunt Hattie’s into a multi-unit business that seated over 1,000 people, or kept Aunt Hattie’s going until Frank *sold the businesses in 1979. It was mostly the personal drive of Frank using what he was taught by his parents. He knew every customer who came in and every employee who ever worked there. On any given day you might find him in the bakery throwing cinnamon sugar on the rolls which they gave away with every meal…in the pot room scrubbing pots…on the line calling orders, or…at the front door passing out oranges to those waiting two or three hours for a seat. Frank was known then, and is still known today for his devotion to quality and service as well as for his dedication to his customers and his staff.
He has passed those same qualities…(or at least, modestly speaking, the desire to achieve those qualities) to his children. Only one though has followed in the family tradition and stayed in the food service industry for the last 48 years. Drawing his first official paycheck at the ripe old age of seven, Bruce Boore has moved on from scraping gum off the underside of tables to bringing the life long dream of Hattie’s Café and Beanery to fruition. Along the way, Bruce spent time at Aunt Hattie’s and Uncle Ed’s (two of the four restaurants Frank built) bussing tables, baking, working the line and patrolling their shared parking lots trying to keep people from parking there while attending concerts or big events at the Bay Front Center arena. In 1977 he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. After graduation Bruce traveled to different areas of the country running the Food and Beverage departments for several large hotels but eventually gave up corporate management for a life of cooking on oil tankers in the merchant marines.* In 1980, Bruce met the love of his life, gave up his life at sea and settled back down in St. Petersburg. Together they raised two sons. Martha worked full time in the dental field and Bruce stayed with food service working for Campbell Soup Co., Bay Front Medical Center, Olde World Cheese Shop, Pierside Seafood House and in 1989 settled in for 22 years with a local food manufacturer, G A Food Service. Never once in all those years did Bruce lose his desire to create his own café. He eventually passed the bug on to Martha. Year after year both Bruce and Martha have enjoyed creating recipes, seeking out new culinary experiences and celebrating all things associated with food and cooking. They also followed the paths laid out by their parents and stayed involved in the community, working with their church, coaching sports, and supporting local charities. Some of their favorite donations have been to silent auctions, where they offered a formal service of dinner and drinks for 8 that was to be cooked in the high bidders home.
Over the years Bruce and Martha have traveled to several foreign countries, but no place has filled their hearts and souls as much as Costa Rica has. The people, the food, the culture, and the environment all have influenced their lives so much that they knew a change had to take place. The experiences there led Martha to go back several times for Spanish language immersion classes and to create organic gardens locally as well as raise bees and volunteer at USF’s Botanical Gardens. This desire for change chased them for many years until finally they knew it was time to take a chance and build the café they had talked about for years.
Once they committed to the idea, it was time for a name. Maybe something that reflected their love for Costa Rica…maybe something catchy based on where they had decided to build? No matter what they thought of, it always kept coming back to Bruce’s roots…to a name that for Bruce and Martha helps define words like quality and service. A name that is much more than just a “tip of the hat” to their past, but also a name that could become something of their own…something that would proudly represent them and their desire to take quality and service even farther by adding in things like “farm to table”, “fair trade”, and “organic”. A name that could thrive in today’s world because the values that made that name a local (some even say national) household name is what people still seek today:
Welcome to Hattie’s Café and Beanery.