Mary Beth Fullerton and her kitchen accomplice (and mother), Kathy Petsch subscribe to the Paula Deen mantra when it comes to creating culinary dishes: they don’t cook for dieting, they cook for eating.
And one bite of their down-home, “gut-sticking good” food is a testament to that.
Fullerton and Petsch recently opened Grand Central Station in the building formerly housed by Sierra Railroad and actually incorporated the train theme into their restaurant.
“There was a lot of train motif already in the building but it just seemed to fit, too. Everyone calls our Riverbank restaurant, ‘Grand Central Station’ so it fit really well to tie the two restaurants together,” Fullerton said.
Fullerton, a former Oakdale resident, Riverbank High graduate, and Army veteran, was thrilled to return to her hometown to open a business.
“I still appreciate the small town feel and the closeness of the community,” Fullerton said of Oakdale. “And so far, so good. We’ve had a nice response from the Oakdale people.”
The two opened their Riverbank location, Mary Beth’s Corner Diner, on Third and Stanislaus in September of 2009 but the food business is in her blood, having come from four generations of restaurateurs.
“My great grandparents owned a restaurant in Bakersfield, my grandparents owned a restaurant and my parents owned a deli. We have four generations worth of family recipes. A wealth of advice from the experts,” Fullerton said, smiling.
In addition to the restaurant, Fullerton and her family operate The Wedding Group, an event planning business, as well as a flower shop and boutique owned by Fullerton’s sister. So it’s a one-stop shopping place, Fullerton said.
The timing seemed right for a location in Oakdale, she added.
“We have a large customer base from Oakdale and the location gave us the opportunity to combine both businesses,” Fullerton said. “It was the right opportunity, right building and we’re able to bring everything together.”
But back to the food. Think comfort — mashed potatoes, turkey with gravy, rib-eye, and deep-fried biscuits.
Deep-fried biscuits? Come again?
Yes, it’s a hidden show-stopper on the menu and an original concoction of Fullerton.
“We make our biscuits fresh everyday but the ones left over, we batter with a slightly sweet batter, deep fry and then serve hot with honey and butter or strawberry jam,” Fullerton said. “They’re pretty good. It’s like a cross between a beignet and funnel cake.”
But the No. 1 seller that Fullerton can’t seem to make enough of for customers?
“The most popular is the meatloaf,” she said. “We make 15 to 20 pounds a day. It’s my mother’s recipe and it’s very good.”
Fullerton said their monkey bread is a close contender for the No. 1 spot but honestly, the food is just like the good, old-fashioned stuff that your grandmother used to make when people worked hard and enjoyed a rib-sticking meal at the end of the day with family around the table. Except when you come for a meal at Grand Central Station, you don’t have to help with the dishes, afterward.
“You’re not going to get the corporate feel here. We’re very relaxed,” Fullerton said. “And, if you leave here hungry, there’s a problem.”
Grand Central Station is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The restaurant is located at 220 S. Sierra Ave.
For more information, call 847-4898.