INMAN — Polly Bridges is a well-known fixture in Inman, thanks to the decades she spent as a waitress at Inman Harvest Cafe. Bridges’ brisk gait keeps the diner’s coffee cups full and their food served up just they way they like it. “I’ve had plenty of memorable customers,” Bridges said. “We’ve had a lot of fun. I just try to make them happy and give them what they want.” Bridges visited the cafe when she first moved to the area and was impressed with how the owner knew what everyone wanted as soon as they walked in the door. Inman Harvest Cafe has had six different owners in the 26 years Bridges has worked there, but she never worried that it would close for good. "This little town needs this restaurant," Bridges said. She started out working at Inman Harvest Cafe a few days each week. "It immediately turned into full time," Bridges said. She serves up breakfast, lunch and homemade pie to everyone from the regular early-morning crowd or a bus full of tourists coming through Inman. "Life was so different back then," Bridges said. "Everyone had an appetite. Now, people are like, 'I'll have one piece of bacon and one egg.'" Bridges has fond memories of previous owners like Ruthie Neufeldt, who ran the cafe for 8 1/2 years. "She was the best to work for," Bridges said. "We had so much fun; she did so many things for everybody. She'd take us all out to eat. When I got divorced, she took me on a day out to get away from things and visit. She's just like a mom to everybody, it was wonderful." The friendship shown by her employers and customers is what kept her at the Inman Harvest Cafe, Bridges said. "Everybody takes care of everybody," Bridges said. "When I got divorced, they gave me a place to live for free, all I had to do was pay the utilities." While some owners lasted months, others years, current proprietors Nick and Katie Reinecker based their decision to buy the cafe on Bridges' willingness to continue in her role. "We would not have done that if Polly wouldn't have been on board," Nick said. "Basically, everything that we've become hinged on her accepting her position as a waiter for the new owners." The Reineckers recognized Bridges' commitment to the cafe and its customers was significant. "There have been very few times Polly was not at work, but when she is not I often hear, 'ell, that's not how Polly does it,'" Nick said. "It shows the level of hospitality and care she gives to each customer." Bridges is known to remember what someone drinks and have it ready before they sit down and taking the time to learn about new customers. "Polly makes running the Inman Harvest Cafe enjoyable and rewarding in ways money cannot measure," Nick said. "We love her dearly and can't imagine life at the cafe without her." Bridges said her one regret is not recording some of the names and stories she has heard over the years. "I just didn't think about it until it was too late," Bridges said. "The first year, I took pictures of all the old guys and I still have those pictures. I wish I had kept it up through the years, but I didn't." Customers at the Inman Harvest Cafe Tuesday morning described Bridges as "kind" and "hard-working." "I just go with the flow, that's my thing," Bridges said. "People come in here and bring their families when there are holidays – I just feel like they're my family, too. It's been a wonderful place to be." Inman Harvest Cafe is located at 112 S. Main St. in Inman and is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday, and from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday. For more information, visit http://www.inmanharvestcafe.com or call 620-585-6925.
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