She doesn't know me, but I think of Foots Creek Deli cook Louise Clark as a beloved aunt.

She doesn't know me, but I think of Foots Creek Deli cook Louise Clark as a beloved aunt.

Several times over the past years, I've nipped into the deli on my way home.

Too weary to cook, but craving home cooking, I'd grab a slice of Clark's meatloaf, or a pint of her country potato salad, or a square of her cinnamon bread pudding and feel like I was eating at mom's.

Now that the deli's new owners, Kristin and Bud Thompson, are offering daily breakfasts featuring biscuits and gravy, chicken fried steak or pancakes, eggs and bacon, a lot of other folks are stopping in at the deli for a rib-sticking start to their day.

Seniors pack the deli's tables each morning — enjoying their breakfasts which range from $2.50 to $8 — while reminiscing and discussing the business of the day.

Thompson allows folks to pick and choose off the menu.

"Seniors can have a dab of hash browns or one egg," she said, adding she doesn't nickle and dime for extras, either.

This place has become a regular restaurant, I realized last Monday. And it's been a long time coming.

Since I'm familiar with Clark's cooking, but not the cook herself, I introduced myself last Monday.

The breakfast rush was in full swing, and Clark was back from a rare two-day vacation.

Busily dabbing sour cream on squares of her famous taco bake (picture a Mexican lasagna), Clark said she was happy to meet me.

And she was happy be back cooking, especially for her beloved Foots Creek customers.

"I cooked in restaurants before this," Clark says.

"That made a mean old lady out of me. Too much stress."

A fixture at the Foots Creek Deli for the past 20 years, Clark has reams of folks who'd follow her to the edge of creation for her creations, said Thompson.

"She's blanching 120 pounds of peaches so we'll have fruit for her pies throughout the winter," said Kristin Thompson.

"And she's making homemade strawberry jelly for the breakfasts."

Clark says all the food is homemade. The biggest seller is her meatloaf, closely followed by her enchiladas and taco bake.

Thompson says the meatballs are special to her. And the Jack Daniels Burger is another favorite. Made with the whiskey, the burgers hold their own against other daily favs like Tri Tip Thursdays and Rib Friday.

"We don't offer a shot with the Jack Daniels Burger," said Thompson.

"Yeah. We drink it ourselves," quipped Clark.

For dessert, the mixed berry and coconut pies have been selling well this summer, Clark says.

One of my favorite comfort desserts is Clark's bread "cottage" pudding.

"We use our old cinnamon rolls in that," said Clark.

"Who makes the killer brownies," I ask.

"We all do," Thompson replied.

Good.

Many brownie-making elves should ensure a steady supply of the fat, dense chocolate squares which are as big as your palm and as good as they get.

— Sanne Specht