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Local restaurant aims to fill tummies of children experiencing chronic hunger this Christmas

In 2016, Frannie's became a reality - and as a single mother, she decided that once she was on her feet, she would find a way to give back to the community that had supported her success
fran-adsett
Fran Adsett

Fran Adsett's business cards may indicate that she's the owner of Frannie's Restaurant and Bakery, but that doesn't stop her from rolling up her sleeves in the kitchen, often baking pies (while tinkering around the kitchen in slippers) through the wee hours of the night.

It takes no more than an initial visit to her restaurant to experience her uniquely warm hospitality; to walk into her dining room as a stranger only happens once.

Between prepping, cooking, serving and even dishwashing, she finds time to engage with her customers (who she prefers to call family). Regulars are remembered by name and dietary restriction while also greeted with a personal quip.

Situated on the north end of Victoria Street in Kitchener, Frannie's has become known for its home away from home atmosphere, with Christmas décor and wafts of holiday baking – all of which have been lovingly orchestrated by Fran.

"I always tell my staff, 'I'm not your boss; I'm a co-worker,'" she added. "I like to work with everybody; I jump online; I cook, prep and wash. But, then, I come out here, and I serve. I bus, I'm their team player. And I think that's why I have a such amazing staff."

A server since the age of 14, Adsett's dream was to open her own restaurant, but not just any establishment - rather, one that felt like a return to a home-cooked meal. In 2016, Frannie's became a reality - and as a single mother, she decided that once she was on her feet, she would find a way to give back to the community that had supported her success.

What began as yearly parties with proceeds going to local organizations evolved into an ongoing campaign to help the underprivileged, including the Canadian Mental Health Association, Lutherwood, Cambridge Shelter, Women's Crisis Services of Waterloo Region, and Fergus crisis centre.

"Last year, I [volunteered] with the men's shelter downtown Kitchener [located at the] Presbyterian Church and cooked meals for them," she shared. "I catered a Christmas morning breakfast for all the gentlemen there and sent them home with packages, so they had food throughout the day; each person [also received] a $5.00 Tim Horton's gift card."

Currently, a donation jar resides at the front of the restaurant – proceeds will go to Food4Kids Waterloo Region, benefiting “local children experiencing chronic hunger." Adsett also works with Lutherwood's employment training service program, which assists community members with cognitive disabilities to find fulfilling work placement.

She admits it's been a much more rewarding experience than she anticipated initially, describing it as watching "a human grow and blossom [and then become] a friend."

"[Lutherwood] helped us bring in this young lady with a brain injury. [She] shouldn't be here today; [after] a car accident, she was told she would never walk or be able to work." Adsett added that it took some time to train her – to get her where she is today.

"But I've never had someone so grateful and happy for their pay cheque before," she joked. "It's pretty heartwarming."

"What, to us, it's such a simple job, [to her] is a golden opportunity." Adsett shared that more employers should take advantage of Lutherwood's employment services. And with the giving season in full swing,

Frannie's will be hosting a special visit with Santa (Dec. 17) – quality time with the jolly man in red will come at the cost of a non-perishable food item or cash to be donated to Food4Kids.

"I don't think that this year, we need toys for the kids - they need their tummy filled with food. [For the future], I'm still trying to put together a safe haven where I could cook breakfast for them because I would love to be able to," she added.

A pop-up bakery will be hosted by Frannie's from Dec. 12 – 23rd, and the deadline for ordering a traditional Christmas dinner feast, which feeds 6-8 people, is Dec. 12. Find out how you can support Frannie's community service here.

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