ELBA — Things were cooking as usual Tuesday — just a typical day for Sandy Chappius and her staff at Chap’s Elba Diner.
The eight-year owner of the diner, 5 S. Main St., runs a business that’s open seven days a week. She also has a catering business and bakery in the back of the building and owns KFC in Albion.
“Being any business owner, you have to multitask. Being a woman in business, you have to manage everything. You have to,” she said while sitting down around lunchtime for a few minutes with The Daily News.
Chappius said the catering business catered a wedding in Warsaw recently. Last year, it catered meals for the Batavia Muckdogs Class A Minor League baseball team during its season. This year, Chappius’ business caters for visiting teams at Muckdogs games. From May through September, she caters on Friday and Saturday nights for the Oak Orchard Yacht Club.
The Chap’s Elba Diner owner was quick to credit her staff for the success it and the other businesses have had. There are 24 employees at the diner and 20 at KFC, she said.
“Most of my staff has been around since day one. I have my kitchen manager, Chuck Andres, and my dining room manager, Mary Ann Conley,” she said. “At the bakery, the pies are baked by Liz Fenton. Our cookies and Power Bars that are sold to Oliver’s Candies are baked by Carol Ettinger. I couldn’t do what I do without the staff, especially those people.”
Also among those she couldn’t do without is her husband, Douglas.
“He’s my go-to person to fist something, to go get something for catering,” she said. “He learned how to cook, he learned how to prep. Without him, I wouldn’t be able to do anything. He’s a great organizer.”
The commute to work isn’t bad. Sandy and Douglas Chappius live next door to the diner, having bought their house four years ago.
While discussing the business, Chappius keeps an eye on the register, ready to help anyone coming up to pay his or her bill.
“You take it easy, honey. Is your knee doing better?” she asked one man as he paid for his meal.
A little while later, she gave another customer a hug.
“Hi stranger, how are you?” she asked. “You get something to eat and relax.
“This is a family-style restaurant, where all the customers here, you know,” Chappius continued. “When they’re sick, I take them food at home.”
Chap’s Elba Diner customers appreciate the atmosphere Sandy Chappius and the staff provide.
“You feel like it’s a family when you walk in. They go out of their way to make you feel at home and make sure everything is OK. It’s a lost art,” said Peggy Dilcher, in town from Fort Myers, Fla., with her husband, Jerry.
“We’ve been here, off and on, since January and this is our favorite hangout,” Peggy said.
Both Peggy and Jerry Dilcher mentioned de
“They have the best desserts. Their fruit pies are excellent,” Peggy said. “She was making cookies here, which are good.”
“Their rhubarb is outstanding and their soup,” Jerry said.
Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Chap’s Elba Diner’s hours are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fridays, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays.
“It’s my life. I love to cook,” said Sandy Chappius, 61. “Our fish fries on Fridays are standing-room only. The soup and salad bar come with every meal.”
How long does she plan to own Chap’s Elba Diner?
“For a long time, I hope — as long as God gives me good health.”