Saturday, Apr 20, 2019

Familiar faces return to Ayer St.

Joe & Tammy’s Family Restaurant has opened at 67 N. Ayer St. HML PHOTO BY JAY SCHULZ

They have been here before. Joe and Tammy Herrera, who have lived in Harvard for 26 years, ran Town & Country Restaurant on Ayer Street for 17 years. Eight years ago, they sold the business and started Katie’s Family Restaurant in Hebron, which they ran for five years. The Herreras are back serving food on Ayer Street, having recently taken over operation of Ellie’s Pancake House and Thomas BBQ at 67 and 69 N. Ayer St.

Ellie’s has been renamed Joe & Tammy’s Family Restaurant. Tammy Herrera said they had been talking with Pete Parhas, building owner and previous operator, about opening a restaurant even before Ellie’s Pancake House opened earlier this year.

She said there is one main reason why they are back in the restaurant game.

“This is Joe’s thing,” she said. “This is what he loves to do.”

“I love people and love to see them with a smile on their face when they leave after eating,” Joe Herrera said.

The Herreras are leasing the business from Parhas. They are managing the bar in Thomas BBQ.

“Our biggest challenge is to try to get people to understand we serve food on both sides,” Tammy Herrera said.

Herrera said they removed some items from the Thomas BBQ menu and will specialize in broasted chicken on the family restaurant side.

“We decided to bring a little something different with the broasted chicken to Harvard so [our customers] don’t have to travel for it,” Herrera said. “It’s made fresh to every order. It’s not sitting. Our key was to make one thing special about [the restaurant] and that is the broasted chicken.”

The family restaurant serves food from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. Herrera said she plans to expand hours to 8 p.m. sometime next year. Food on the Thomas BBQ side is served from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

“It gets a little hectic sometimes getting tickets from two different windows,” she said. “We need two people in the kitchen.”

Herrera said the secret to success in the business is to make people happy.

“Over the years, Joe and I have learned that people come in, and they expect to get their money’s worth of food,” Herrera said. “They want to be waited on and talked to. They want to be treated like they are the only one in the place even though there are 100 other people being waited on.

“Our goal is to make you happy when you come in. We’re going to do the best to give you good service and good food.”