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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Feb. 17, 2020 1 month ago

Chew chew: Railroad-themed Breakfast Station opened next to Publix on Old Dixie

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Breakfast and lunch menu has already won a loyal following.
by: Brian McMillan Executive Editor

That couple eats at the Breakfast Station every day.

This man just left at 2 p.m. after eating lunch — and he ate breakfast earlier this morning. (Lunch was dumplings, which he requested — and which was added to the menu as a result.)

Another man with his son was leaving after having eaten at the restaurant four days in a row.

As co-owner Erin Carpenter and General Manager Vince Karalunas sat in a booth for an interview with the Plantation Bay Observer (after a customer asked them to contact us to ask for a story), they marveled at the atmosphere — the joy and loyalty of the customers — that has developed since the place opened in November, next to Publix at the Old Dixie Highway-Interstate 95 interchange.

Mario joined his dad, Jimmy Abel, on Feb. 17. Jimmy said he had been there four days in a row. He drives from Palm Coast because he loves the food — and "the conversation between servers and the people. I love the atmosphere."

“I’ve never been at a restaurant that has regulars like this,” said Karalunas, who has been immersed in the restaurant business since he was 12.

This is the 15th in the Breakfast Station franchise, and it’s the second co-owned by Carpenter and her husband. When she first visited one of the restaurants, she was surprised to learn it had a railroad theme.

Her father, who drove trains for a living, had died not long before that, and she saw it as a sign. Her grandfather was a conductor, and her great-grandfather was a dispatcher, she said.

The Breakfast Station didn't start with a railroad theme. The original restaurant in the franchise was built by a railroad track, and customers brought in their memorabilia.

Carpenter has been thrilled with the support from customers.

“It’s all about relationships and community,” she said. “When you’re from this community, and you meet other people from the community, they want to see you successful for their own sake but also to see small business owners make it.”

Karalunas said that in his experience, there is often a tension between the servers and the cooks. But the Breakfast Station has stumbled upon a great cooperative spirit among the staff.

“We’re not fake with our customers,” he said. “I am myself. I joke around with the old ladies. I have five girlfriends that are like 97 years old. … The servers dance when there’s a good song on. We had a whole slew of people singing along to the radio, and the severs were singing. It’s fun to be here.”

Brian McMillan has been editor of the Palm Coast Observer since it began in 2010. He was named the Journalist of the Year for weekly newspapers in North America by the Local Media Association in 2012. He lives in Palm Coast with his wife and five children. Email...

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