Sweet Betty’s grand opening was a long time in coming.
In fact, about 14 months long. Blame it on Covid-19, that insidious virus that closed a few businesses and left others short-staffed due to employee scarcity.
“We opened Aug. 3, 2020,” co-owner Gabby Keister said Wednesday at her Le Roy restaurant. “Because of Covid, we didn’t want to promote a crowd. We kept saying we’ll do it ‘next month,’ and we never did. We want people to know we’re open.”
That long-awaited grand opening finally happened today. The establishment actually was to open even earlier. Keister, whose nickname is Betty, and her husband Scott, bought the site at 15 Main St. in February 2020 and strategized a spring opening. It would be a sweets-themed shop of ice cream and candy. They were in the thick of Covid-19 at that point, so the couple kept working on the interior renovations while cleaning out most everything from the former diner.
Not exactly strangers to the restaurant field, the Keisters owned and operated Le Roy Country Club for three and a half years about 25 years ago. Children and the demands of raising a family prompted them to close, she said. Now that the kids are older, the couple decided to give it another try.
Bright yellow walls and a black-and-white checkered floor provide a welcoming, cozy greeting. There is seating for 75 diners, and take-out and delivery are also available. The menu morphed into lunch, dinner, and desserts.
“We kept getting bigger and better ideas … and it just flourished,” she said. “Our objective is to have something for everyone.”
For local patrons, it was apparently worth the wait. Regulars line up for burgers, pizza, chicken tenders, specialty desserts, and the Flying Betty sandwich, Keister said. The burgers are a trio blend of three different cuts of meat, which has made them a hit amongst customers, Mr. Keister said. He deals with a vendor that exclusively provides the meat combo to Sweet Betty’s in the Le Roy area.
Most of the meals are handmade from scratch, such as tenders of breaded chicken breast, a gooey salted caramel cheesecake individually sized, and seasonal desserts and cookies. The pumpkin flavor is the star of the show right now.
One of the most popular dishes is the Flying Betty, a fried chicken breast topped with homemade coleslaw and pickles. That “came from a mistake,” Mrs. Keister said. Staff sampled it and thought it was good enough to put on the menu.
Wraps, fruit and vegetable salads, brownies, and 27 flavors of Perry’s ice cream round out the menu, plus the homemade chocolate and vanilla waffle cones. And several varieties of draft and canned beer, red and white wine, frozen wine slushies, and — especially cool with the teenagers — bubble tea. Just as it sounds, a bubble is placed in the bottom of a glass, tea is added, and the bubble travels up the straw and pops.
Mrs. Keister feels good to know that parents are comfortable enough to drop off their kids for a burger at the place, she said. That’s an indication of what she wanted it to be: a “clean, safe, friendly atmosphere,” she said.
“In that respect, we’ve been very successful; we get a lot of compliments,” she said.
In its short existence thus far, Sweet Betty's has already become a gathering place for the Le Roy community, said Steven Falitico, membership development director of Genesee County Chamber of Commerce.
Falitico sees the restaurant as a great addition to Main Street, Le Roy.
“Small town charm is strong in Genesee County, and it's our local businesses, like Sweet Betty's, that make our communities more enjoyable places to live,” he said. “A special thank you from The Chamber goes out to Gabby Keister, the owner of the establishment. She was born and raised in Le Roy and wanted to make an impact on her hometown. Her entrepreneurial spirit and drive are what made this restaurant possible.”
Hours are 11:30 a.m to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. For more information, call 585-502-6084.
Photos by Howard Owens.
Top photo: Today's ribbon cutting.
Gabby Keister, her husband Scott Keister, and their son Scott (on left).