By Joey May

Lottie’s celebrated its recent open with a ribbon cutting with the Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau last Wednesday. Preparing to cut the ribbon are owners and sisters — Stacy Barnes and Haley Chaires Salazar, along with their spouses Gary Beck and Fabian Chaires Salazar — surrounded by family and employees, along with Chamber board members and fellow downtown business owners. The downtown Hiawatha restaurant opened in mid August, serving all-day breakfast and homestyle cooking.

A new restaurant in Hiawatha is bringing homestyle cooking back to the downtown area.

Lottie’s Restaurant opened in mid-August in what was formerly known for many, many years as Gus’ Restaurant — which closed down sometime last year.

Since that time, people in the community have been hopefully anticipating the arrival of a potential new eatery at this location. Judging by the steady stream of customers in and out of Lottie’s front door, that anticipation is definitely still in place.

Sisters Haley Chaires Salazar and Stacy Barnes are the new owners of Lottie’s — along with their husbands Fabian Chaires Salazar and Gary Beck. Both say they have restaurant experience and for the past several years Haley and her husband have been working in North Carolina.

Barnes said she had been thinking about opening up the restaurant for several months — since it came up for sale — but then suddenly the chance came to purchase it and give her sister an opportunity to move back home.

Since the restaurant had been closed for quite some time, they had to complete some renovations and updates, but not extensively and the sisters credited their father, David, for helping them out. They also said their mother, Cindy, organized a computer system set up that included front counter check out.

All four had quit their former employment to dive right into making Lottie’s a realty sooner than later. The sisters said it gave them extra time and also the incentive to get the restaurant ready to open.

Lottie’s opened Aug. 19 and while the initial influx of customers was a little overwhelming, the sisters said they have settled into a good routine with about 35 total employees, full and part-time.

Lottie’s offers breakfast served all day, along with lunch and dinner entres starting at 11 a.m. and served throughout the day. Barnes and Chaires Salazar said they strived to keep costs affordable and also offer specials on specific days. They say they want to expand with some dessert options soon, along with additional specials.

Being the owner of a downtown business, the sisters say they want to be involved in the community as well. They are also participating in the Hiawatha Rocks — where people hide rocks around town with uplifting paintings or sayings on them. Several “Lottie’s” rocks are hidden around town and can be brought back in for a discount on a meal.

Lottie’s gets its name from the family — it’s Chaires Salazar’s middle name and is short for Charlotte, the name of a great-aunt. They want to keep the business in the family and continue to grow with the help of additional family and friends. Barnes has five children — two boys in college and three at home attending Hiawatha schools. The youths are often spotted at the restaurant. Chaires Salazar said she and her husband, Fabian, were just married last November and have no children, but said she was excited to move back to her hometown to be close to family.

Find Lottie’s on Facebook, where a full menu is posted, or call (785) 740-2522 for information about specials, carry-out or delivery — a service that is offered from 5-8 p.m.

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