On any given weekday, the barstools by the counter are occupied with bridge workers as bacon sizzles on the grill. Vintage photos showing decades of Palmyra history are everywhere. Jerseys and jackets from Palmyra High’s Panthers decorate the walls like pop art paintings.
“I like to keep things up that represent this neighborhood,” says owner Fran Hannan of the artifacts throughout the room, which might account for the homelike feeling his customers have come to rely on and enjoy.
Welcome to West Broad Street Luncheonette in Palmyra, where everybody knows your name.
Hannan, 51, proprietor, chef and greeter of the cozy space took over the eatery housed in a free-standing building three years ago—and as the name implies, it’s located on West Broad Street across from the athletic fields.
For more than 50 years, the informal restaurant operated as Lincoln’s Luncheonette.
“Some of my customers who are in their 60s, came in here when they were teens,” says Hannan, of the neighborhood stomping ground that for decades has been a spot patronized by a clientele of students, local workers and neighboring folks from Palmyra, Riverton and Cinnaminson.
Originally from Northeast Philadelphia, Hannan moved to the Garden State in 1989.
At about the same time, he was finishing a degree at the The Restaurant School of Walnut Hill College in Philadelphia when happenstance led him into the company of rock stars.
“Representatives of the Rolling Stones called one day and asked to interview some of the school’s top student chefs. I guess someone thought I was one of them,” laughs Hannan, who traveled as a crew member for six months and through seven concerts during the Stones’ Steel Wheels tour that same year.
“I never really got to get up and close to the Stones. It was a neat experience, but I worked so much. ...Those type of jobs burn you out,” Hannan, who now lives in Hainesport with his family, confesses.
After Hannan returned to the area, he worked as a chef at the former harness and thoroughbred Garden State Racetrack, and now the site of a high-end shopping center with condominiums, restaurants and town homes. In its heyday, the racetrack had upscale restaurants where Hannan worked for 12 years.
Always interested in being his own boss, Hannan then opened the Black Swan, a BYOB bistro in Mount Laurel that had served new American cuisine like jumbo lump crab cakes and pan-seared scallops.
“But honestly, I became tired of the late nights and long hours,” says Hannan, echoing a not-so-unfamiliar tale by veteran chefs.
By this time, according to Hannan, West Broad Street Luncheonette had changed hands and was operating as the The Parkview Cafe for a couple of years.
One day while Hannan was scouring Craigslist, he saw that the luncheonette was listed for availability. His fate was sealed, and Hannan assumed ownership of the breakfast-to-lunch cafe (with menu prices under $10) in September 2009.
Breakfast foods are for the grub-craving mortals hungering for a hearty morning start. With names like the Palmyra slammer, which includes two pancakes, two eggs, two slices and toast; and the Palmyra eggs Benedict, a toasted biscuit covered with two poached eggs smothered with sausage gravy, satisfaction is a guarantee.
Assorted sandwiches include burgers, hot dogs, steaks, but the real darling is the very popular po’ boy, a New Orleans specialty on French bread. It comes with your choice of chicken, roast beef, sausage, shrimp, crab cake, fried fish or oyster. Delicious!
And it’s all washed down with assorted juices, coffee, tea or hot chocolate. Sodas, raspberry iced tea and pink lemonade round out the beverage menu.
“I’m having a lot of fun here,” says Hannan. “I like being a part of the locals.”
West Broad Street Luncheonette is at 307 W. Broad St., Palmyra, 856-786-0082, and is opened Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, 6:30 a.m.-1 p.m.