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Washington restaurant emerges from whirlwind of ownership changes |

Washington restaurant emerges from whirlwind of ownership changes

WASHINGTON — Misty Kaufman has been a restaurant server for 28 years. Her fiancé Agim Bekteshi has been a chef for 30 years.

Despite all that experience in the restaurant business, they’re riding a learning curve as the new owners of Misty’s Family Restaurant, 1869 Washington Road in Washington. After becoming partners with the former owner Sept. 1, they became the owners Dec. 1.

Kaufman and Bekteshi are the third owners of the restaurant in 15 months. The former Cummins Family Restaurant switched hands Feb. 1, 2017, and was known as the Corner Family Restaurant until it was sold again.

While the ownership changes were fast and furious last year, that was nothing compared to what surrounded the restaurant on Nov. 17, 2013.

That was the morning an EF-4 tornado tore through Washington.

A photo taken from across Washington Road shows the tornado destroying the Georgetown Common Apartments behind Cummins Family Restaurant, just missing the restaurant.

Nearly five years later, the restaurant is still standing, but with a different name and new owners who are learning about the restaurant business every day.

“We never dreamed about the time or energy it would take to own a restaurant,” Kaufman said.

Or the challenges of finding reliable help. Or the tax obligations. Or building the business after it struggled as The Corner.

Despite those distractions, Misty’s is off to a good start while serving breakfast (all day), lunch and dinner seven days a week.

“I know the front end of a restaurant like the back of my hand,” Kaufman said. “I can help our servers because I know how to take care of customers, and I know how to respond if there’s a problem.

“Agim is a great chef and a real people person. He loves walking around the restaurant asking if everything is OK.”

The Washington Chamber of Commerce has been a big help, Kaufman said, especially chamber membership manager Wendy Wagner.

“Wendy has helped me with advertising and keeping me aware of events in town,” she said. “Washington reminds me a lot of Princeton, where I grew up, with its local shops and how people support them. We’ve met a lot of nice people who are our customers.”

Misty’s has gotten mostly favorable comments online — it’s earned a 4.9 on Google’s 5.0 scale based on 204 reviews — and many people are giving it a try from word of mouth.

“What a wonderful breakfast my kids and I just had at Misty’s. The staff made us feel like we were sitting at their family table. … They made special pancakes for the little ones. Mickey Mouse face with pineapple eyes, nose and mouth. … This place has the best food in Washington bar none” read three recent reviews.

East Peoria resident Cathy Loy, a playground monitor for the extended care program at Lincoln Grade School in Washington, noticed the restaurant’s name change from the Corner to Misty’s late last year and decided to give it a try.

She’s now perhaps the restaurant’s biggest fan, stopping in as often as she can. Sometimes Kaufman spots Loy parking her car in the restaurant parking lot and has her cup of coffee on a table waiting for her.

“The prices are amazing for the amount of food you get there,” Loy said. “If you leave there hungry, well, that’s your fault.”

Loy said she sees how hard Kaufman and Bekteshi work.

“The only time I see Misty sitting down is when she’s taste-testing Agim’s soups in the morning,” she said.

Bekteshi’s homemade soups have become a drawing card at the restaurant.

“Agim makes his soups from scratch. I’ve tried to make them like him, but I can’t do it,” Loy said.

Then there’s breakfast at Misty’s.

“Eggs, bacon, hash browns, gravy … they’re supposed to be bad for you, but they’re really not,” Loy said.

Kaufman agreed that breakfast has been a big draw, especially skillets, pancakes and sausage gravy.

Another popular offering is a soup and salad bar. Each dinner includes one trip there. The restaurant’s daily specials also are popular.

Breakfast dishes cost from $4.99 to $8.99, lunch from $7.99 to $8.99 and dinner from $9.99 to $14.99. Lunch and dinner are served starting at 11 a.m. daily.

Including the owners, Misty’s had 10 full-time workers as of early April.

Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.



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