For more than a week, a familiar sight has greeted people at the corner of Main and Woodland streets: an “Open” sign on the front door of Annie’s Clark Brunch.
The diner — a popular destination for generations of hungry Clarkies and a fixture in Main South — is indeed back in business. The restaurant reopened on Sept. 12 after being closed since late June following the retirement of longtime owner Annie Jenkins.
When Jenkins announced her departure, Clark recognized the importance of continuing the Annie’s legacy of serving comfort food at reasonable prices to the University’s students, faculty, and staff, as well as the many neighborhood residents who found Annie’s Clark Brunch a warm and welcoming place (and one of the best deals in Worcester). To sustain the tradition, Clark Dining Services has stepped in to oversee the restaurant’s operations — with the menu unchanged, right down to the heaping bowl of mac-and-cheese with your choice of topping.
And there’s also a familiar presence at the grill.
Jenkins and her daughter Megan Mancini Zawalich have been recruited to share their expertise and kitchen secrets with the Clark team so that Clarkies will continue to benefit even when Annie herself is no longer filling their plates.
“We were fortunate to be able to pry Annie out of retirement to help us out,” says President David Fithian. “We could never have reopened with confidence without having Annie and Megan by our side.”
Jenkins owned Annie’s Clark Brunch for 29 years and worked there for 35. She and Megan, who worked alongside her mother for 15 years, are cooking and supervising on-site operations, including training the student wait staff.
“It’s a new experience for me to work for someone else,” she laughs. “Yes, it’s an adjustment, but I’m getting used to it.”
Jenkins and the Clark Dining Services crew are gearing up for the colder weather. At the time of this conversation, chilly temperatures were forecast, so Jenkins anticipated a chicken soup-and-sandwich special would be an appropriate offering.
“People love it here,” she says. “I try to keep it a friendly, homey place. President Fithian has been by, and I’ve seen a lot of old friends. I’m working it, honey.”
Annie’s Clark Brunch is open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.