Being an entrepreneur is not new to Henry Willner, the owner of HannahBell’s Southern Cafe. Nor is the restaurant service industry new to Lexy Burden, the cafe’s manager. Willner, who also owns Taylor’s Tavern on West Parrish Avenue and the Boiler Room (which is currently closed), said the two had discussed owning and running a restaurant. But, it wasn’t until some friends who owned the restaurant property approached him that he and Burden decided this was the time.
Since its soft opening on March 19, HannahBell’s has been serving southern-style breakfasts and lunches to the west side, all the while perfecting their menu and growing their customer base.
In fact, the opening was so soft, they just put out an “open” sign to see if people would stop in. They did, and they have been coming back ever since.
The two named the restaurant after two of their daughters, Hannah and Isabella — Bell for short — and are trying to find a way to name something after Willner’s third daughter, Ashlyn. The rooster motif on the restaurant sign and throughout the restaurant began as their logo, but the menu offers a great deal of breakfast egg options.
“I have always loved to cook,” Willner said of having large-group cooking experiences at Taylor’s for annual crawfish boils and catered events.
Burden said that Willner had the best business sense, and that is what has made HannahBell’s success so immediate.
Using family recipes to create made-from-scratch meals, Willner said that his pulled pork and Burden’s meatloaf are two customer favorites.
“We sell a [ton] of green beans,” Willner said, adding that hashbrown casserole is also a favorite.
When they first opened HannahBell’s, they worked off an introductory menu so they could perfect those items before adding others. Now they have branched out and offer a full menu of items.
“EMTs and law enforcement officers are glad we are here, they have said,” Burden said.
“Prior to us, their option was just fast food [on this side of town].”
Willner said one of his main reasons for opening on the west side is that he believes that “this side of town has been forgotten.” Something he said their customers believe as well.
“There is not anything like us in town, especially on the west end,” Willner said. “We have things that set us apart.”
HannahBell’s offers omelets and skillets for breakfast, along with pancakes, french toast and breakfast skillets.
The omelets are fluffy and folded, Burden said, and they are as popular as their newly-added skillet breakfasts. Burden said the skillets are so popular that they have to order more skillets to serve them in.
The lunch sides at HannahBell’s offer many choices and salads can be served as a salad or wrapped in a flatbread to create a sandwich.
With a staff of 14, the cafe is well-equipped to also host private parties at night.
Beginning in August, they are planning to have an all-day Sunday brunch buffet and salad bar.
Burden is at the cafe each day and said that the most enjoyable part of his job is the connection he’s made with the clientele.
“The people and interacting…this is what I like,” Burden said. “It is a home-town feel.”
HannahBell’s Southern Cafe is located at 1324 Carter Road and is open from 6 a.m. – 2 p.m. Monday through Saturday.