A friend and I recently needed a place to meet for lunch to discuss business-stuff. She is fairly new to Newtown, having moved here from Jersey over a year ago. She named a place in one of the shopping centers. I demurred, and texted, “Pat’s on State St.” She texted back, “??” So I sent her the address and we agreed to meet at noon.
I love introducing Pat’s to a new person. Recently I met another friend there for lunch. “Pat’s does lunch?” she said. Uh huh.
I love doing it because here is what I see when I walk in. The person I’m meeting has usually gotten there before me (I tend to run 5 – 10 minutes late). She is sitting at a table with a big grin on her face, with a nice warm drink in front of her. “This is great!” I hear, usually before I am even properly greeted. “I didn’t know!”
But with all due respect to the many people who do know about Pat’s Colonial Kitchen in Newtown, there are many who don’t know. Or only think of Pat’s for their delicious pancakes and breakfasts, and don’t realize how great lunch is also.
Pat’s has the feel of an old-time diner. The waitresses know you, and know the menu. If you’re about to order something that’s just not a good combination, one of them might steer you in a different direction—in a respectful way, of course. “How about this instead?” You agree tentatively, then discover she was right, and you will gladly trust her for the rest of your life. I’ve learned to watch the body language as I order, and then wait. “Good choice! That’s one of my favorites,” she’ll say—truthfully—effectively blessing the meal for me.
Pat’s first opened in 1988 with Pat Bolli at the helm. “Grandmom started the business, and then my parents took over,” explains Melissa Marino. Melissa, 27, recently returned from four years of living in L.A. She and her boyfriend decided they had enough of Southern California and yearned to be back in Bucks. Although Melissa grew up in the business, she has now thrown herself into it heart and soul, making her the third generation at Pat’s. Her dad, Frank Marino runs the kitchen, and her mom, Lisa Marino, is the first smile you see when you walk in. They are clearly thrilled to have her near, with her enthusiasm and ideas for the business.
Come in and you’ll see some of Melissa’s influence. A blackboard covers one of the walls, and lists everything from the day’s soup and quiche, seasonal desserts, seasonal hot chocolates, and the quote of the day. The menu is now on one 11 x 14 piece of paper, breakfast on one side and lunch on the other. This is convenient because although you may be coming in for lunch, you might secretly be yearning for Pat’s famous pancakes, available with over ten kinds of toppings of fruits, chips and nuts.
Although Melissa is putting her more “modern” touch to the look of the restaurant and the menu, don’t worry. The heart of Pat’s, and how they treat their customers, is not changing.
While I was sitting with Melissa, an older couple came in and she greeted them by name. This isn’t unusual. At Pat’s, the employees know all the regulars by name. But what Melissa told me about this one particular couple took my breath away.
The husband of the couple has severe Alzheimer’s disease. They come every day for breakfast, 7 days a week. If they don’t, it throws his entire day off. So when the restaurant is closed—only on Christmas—Frank Marino meets the couple in front of the restaurant, and hands them a bag with a corn muffin.
Pat Hibbs and Judy Tyson, both long-time friends of Pat Bolli, have been waitresses at Pat’s since it opened. Berni Pazzullo, the only person hired “off the street”—as opposed to a family member or friend—has waited tables at Pat’s for over 15 years. “Once you’re hired here,” Melissa quips, “You don’t leave!”
If you come to Pat’s on the weekend, be prepared to wait. But people don’t seem to mind. The comfortable porch has many benches and tables, and everyone passes the time by chatting, reading the paper, or catching up with email.
But come early (Pat’s opens at 7 am) for a breakfast meeting, and you’ll find a table and hot coffee waiting. It certainly beats standing in line for a cappuccino and stale bagel. Free WIFI too.
It has become my restaurant of choice in the Newtown area for lunch because it’s good and the food comes out quickly. I have a couple of favorites on the menu. The Grilled Chicken Melt ($8.95) may sound ordinary, but it’s anything but. It’s a (real) grilled cutlet, with apple butter, grilled onions and cheddar on grilled rye bread. I also love the Chicken Salad on Raisin Toast ($7.25) which marries savory and sweet. In addition to faithful standbys like burgers, BLTs and chicken and tuna salad, Pat’s has added some new items to the menu that had previously only appeared as specials: the Nova Lox or Whitefish Salad on a Bagel ($9.95), a Grilled Tuna Melt ($8.95), and a Turkey Special (think Corned Beef Special but with turkey instead)($8.95). Everything is fresh and made to order.
The lunch salads are varied, and in size, quite impressive. They range from a simple tossed salad ($4.95), to a Gourmet Salad with seasonal vegetables ($7.95), to the Anthony Salad with grilled chicken, bacon, cheddar, walnuts and a hard-boiled egg (($9.95). Nine different salads in all and most arrive in a huge metal bowl filled to the brim.
I think what I like most about Pat’s (besides the food) is the strong local feeling I get when I’m there. Even though there are one or two chain restaurants I might occasionally visit, my focus on Bucks County Taste has always been on the locally owned business which creates a sense of community. You’ll feel that at Pat’s, and many other restaurants in Bucks, which is why I love living here in Bucks County.
Pat’s Colonial Kitchen
127 South State Street
Newtown, PA 18940
HOURS: 7 days/week, 7 am to 2 pm. Closed on Christmas.