Dan Frank looked around at his restaurant staff.
“They’re not to stress level,” he said. “But church isn’t out yet.”
It was 11:50 a.m. on Mother’s Day, the brunch-server’s equivalent of D-Day.
In 20 minutes, an invasion of morning churchgoers would fill the Wilson Frank’s restaurant waiting area. They would line up outside the door.
They would be hungry.
For many North Idaho and Washington restaurants, Mother’s Day is the busiest day of the year, eclipsing even Easter and Thanksgiving.
“Mom does the cooking, and she wants to take the day off. And the family wants to eat something decent,” said Frank, who manages the restaurant. By the end of the day, Wilson Frank’s would serve about 400 meals - twice a normal Sunday.
At Templin’s Resort in Post Falls, meanwhile, cooks had spent four days gearing up for Mother’s Day. Bakers began preparing breads, tarts and cinnamon rolls on Thursday. One chef spent all day Saturday making 800 creampuffs. Workers spent Saturday folding and stacking hundreds of napkins.
“This is our biggest day of the year,” said Vicki Paramore, restaurant manager. The restaurant expected to serve 1,600 meals on Sunday.
“I think I’ve had one Mother’s Day off,” said executive chef David Barton, his chef’s hat damp with perspiration. “At the time, I was washing dishes - that was a long time ago.”
Lois Wechsler, Templin’s general manager, is herself a mom. She spent the day with two of her three daughters - they work in the restaurant.
Because of her job, Wechsler’s family celebrated Mother’s Day on Saturday.
They didn’t go out to eat.
“We just had a barbecue at home,” she confessed, laughing.
Pat Fitzpatrick and Darlene Salisbury came all the way from Los Angeles for brunch at Patsy Clark’s Mansion in Spokane. They stood outside the restaurant for more than a half-hour on Sunday with their mother and Salisbury’s son, waiting to be seated.
It was Betty Summerville’s first Mother’s Day in the Inland Northwest. She moved to Post Falls April 10 when her company moved from Los Angeles.
Her daughters decided to make this Mother’s Day special.
“All that distance for dinner at Patsy Clark’s,” said Betty Summerville, the family matriarch.
Well, brunch probably is a more correct term.
One table was filled with fruit, another with mounds of shrimp.
There were custom-made omelettes served at one spot, and another table with serving bins of sausage, spinach souffle, chili and duchess potatoes.
Reservations for the 500 available seatings were booked three weeks in advance.
“It’s probably No. 1 as far as the Sunday brunches go,” said Mitchell Ross, assistant manager.
“On Father’s Day, I think it’s their day and they go golfing.”
Fitzbillies in downtown Spokane sold out of scones after offering a special two-for-one scone deal after a morning rush.
Mary Wilkins took her three children there for bagels, root beer, Snapple and cream cheese.
“They’re very special, wonderful children,” Wilkins said.
As if illustrating the point, 4-year-old Mark Wilkins gave himself a sloppy lipstick job with cream cheese and scooped fingerfuls of it into his mouth.
“Only on Mother’s Day,” Wilkins said, shaking her head.
MEMO: Changed in the Spokane edition.