For Charity Elliott, the restaurant business is often a family affair. She grew up working alongside her mother in the family restaurant and catering business.
After college, she started her own career and spent several years in management for various food services and school system. Then, just months before the pandemic, she decided to start her own restaurant, Just Peachy Cafe, in her hometown of Shelbyville at 52 E. Washington St. And with the help of her retired mother, husband Chad and his sons Gavin and Garett, the restaurant developed a loyal following in the southern suburbs of Indy.
Apart from your family relationships, what attracted you to catering?
I’ve always enjoyed the fast pace of a restaurant. And then, as I grew in the management aspect, I really enjoyed connecting with people. Customers, staff. I love training people and coaching them to… excel beyond what they think they can do.
What made you decide to open your own business?
When you work for a government entity, like a school, there are a lot of hurdles to jump through, a lot of people to answer to. So I decided I wanted to do something different, and it was time to be my own boss. But I didn’t want to give up [the school] hours. So I decided that a cafe would be the perfect type of establishment. That way I could be open only for breakfast and lunch and be home with my family in the evening.
How did you come up with the name of your restaurant?
All my life, my mom and I, whenever someone says, “How are you?”, we always say, “Just peachy.” And that’s all. [You’ll get the same response from restaurant staff.]
How would you describe your menu and your atmosphere?
We look like Hallmark, but we’ll feed you like CMT [Country Music Television]. Because we look like a nice little cafe that might cater to women and those kinds of groups, but we cater to everyone, people of all ages. … Everyone walks in and enjoys the food. Portions are a decent size. … It’s home cooking, all from scratch.
What are your culinary specialties?
Probably the chicken salad croissant. Or soups, potato soup. It’s a big favourite. … All our toasts are served with peach butter. It is a whipped butter that contains peach jam. And then we have a peach-mango salsa that we serve with our breakfast wrap and our Just Peachy Chicken Sandwich. You will always find cookies in [our dessert case]. Or brownies. There is always something new.
What’s been the most fun thing about running your own restaurant?
I’ve met so many great people, and they become family. I know a lot of my guests by name when they walk in, and I just love being a part of their lives and I miss that. [them] when I don’t see them. In fact, when they go on vacation, they usually tell me they’re leaving.
What has been the secret to your success, creating a thriving restaurant in the midst of a difficult pandemic?
It’s the people. People know I care. They know I’m there for them. I have no reason to be here if I’m not here to serve these people and take care of them. I really think that’s why we have the following, because they know we care.•