The last few weeks might have been hectic for Donna Cross, but it was clear on Monday morning that she felt the stress and effort was worth it.
Cross was in the first hour of the opening of Donna’s Kitchen — an eatery at the Platte River Mall which features home-baked muffins, rolls, pies, wraps and sandwiches and soups and salads.
As she spent time between greeting friends and well-wishers and serving cookies or muffins to customers, Cross seemed at ease as she returned to the business she’d worked in for most of her life. She’d tried retirement, but the food industry called her back.
“I got tired of sitting home all the time. I don’t know how else to put it,” Cross said of the short break she took from the food industry. “Retirement might be for some but not everyone.”
Cross, who previously operated various Donna’s Kitchen locations in North Platte, saw an opportunity with the available space at the mall.
“I walked by here one day and it was empty and I had already been doing some baking (at home) for some friends,” Cross said. “It was just a thought and you know how sometimes that just jells.”
Donna’s Kitchen is located across from Riddle’s Jewelry in the mall, 1000 S. Dewey St., and occupies the storefront of the former Rockabilly Roasters coffee shop.
The eatery will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the store has four tables set up in front of the counter with a small kitchen in the back. Cross employs two people in the front of the store with another person in the kitchen.
The store, which will serve breakfast and lunch items, went from an idea to a reality over the past month after Donna’s Kitchen was announced as the mall’s latest tenant.
“It has been a challenge, as we started with bare bones,” said Cross, who got her start in the food industry as a dishwasher when she was 16 years old. “We had to get appliances and everything in the kitchen but I had one advantage. I had so much stuff in my garage from the last business I had. I just had to furnish this place from the floor up.”
The work paid off on Monday, however.
“(The opening) is always exciting, just like anything someone is passionate about,” Cross said. “This gets in your blood.”
An earlier version of this story had incorrect days of operation in the caption of the photo. Donna's Kitchen will be open Monday through Saturday.