WINNSBORO — Fans of the Mean Gene Burger can rejoice because it is now back in Winnsboro thanks to the re-opening of the Roadrunner Cafe.
Located at 1153 Kincaid Bridge Road in Winnsboro, the business is under new management, the decor, and most importantly the burger recipe, remain unchanged.
Rebecca Anderson Cassellas purchased the business from Gene Kelly last June. Kelly retired after being in business for over 30 years and creating a loyal following, where he became famous for his burgers. Cassellas kept all the items Kelly served and plans to expand the menu as she goes along. She already has made changes to the barbecue changing it from tomato based sauce to mustard based and she said she changed the flounder to a better tasting variety of flounder.
The RoadRunner name was iconic, so she kept it, adding Cafe to the end to put her personal touch on the venture.
The restaurant offers a full breakfast and serves lunch and dinner. She closes at 7 p.m. on weeknights but starting next week Casellas will remain open on Friday nights until 10 p.m.
This is Cassellas’ first foray into the restaurant business, but she does have business training. The business training was hands on and occurred when she lived on the West Coast and studied massage therapy. She worked for a while as a massage therapist while her husband was stationed in California in the Marine Corps. She ran her own mobile massage therapy business there for four years.
When he retired, they moved to the Charlotte, N.C. area and the massage business proved not to be as lucrative for her there. Cassellas, a young mother, began contemplating a career change.
She now uses those hands to pat out hamburger patties, though she has a full time cook on staff as well.
Cassellas has returned to her roots with this move, noting how she loved to eat Kelly’s burgers when she was a child growing up in Winnsboro.
“I always loved to cook,” she said. She credits time with her grandmothers, Dorcas Anderson-Ligon and Annie Douglas, for helping her learn the cooking skills and her father, Donnie Anderson, for helping her learn about work ethic.
Thankfully that passion for cooking is strong within her because learning to create the Mean Gene Burger was a one-and-a-half month apprenticeship process. He still comes in sometimes to hang out and offer advice to her. She knew of their family and her family kept in touch with the Kelly’s so they alerted their entrepreneurial daughter of the opportunity when RoadRunner came up for sale.
The biggest challenge so far for her has been figuring out how much food to order each week, but that is a process that is becoming easier with time. When Cassellas is in the restaurant, she does the cooking. Otherwise, Jeraline Craig is the head cook.
As often is the case with small diners, this cafe is a family affair.
Her husband, Demetrius Cassellas, is the silent partner in the restaurant.
Cassellas’ sister, Suzanne Anderson, works the cash register and is acting manager when Cassellas is not there.
Her mother, Caroline Hall, works at the restaurant, too. She has two sons, an 11-year-old who sometimes hangs out at the restaurant and a one-year-old, so one thing Cassellas understands is multitasking.
Cassellas has plans to add a television to the restaurant for her patrons but does not sell any alcohol at the establishment, which she envisions as a family-friendly restaurant.
The famous “Mean Gene” Burger includes cheese, chili, lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, mayo and pickle and a variety of other burgers including the triple cheeseburger and the jalapeno burger.
Other items include hot dogs, slaw dogs, corn dogs, and Polish sausage, a chicken strip sandwich, a bologna, ham and cheese Dagwood sandwich, and a fish flounder sandwich.
Side items include fries, onion rings and loaded fries with jalapenos. Some of the dinners served include fish plates, chicken strip plates, chicken wings and hamburger steak plates. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. and the menu includes grits, toast, pancakes, fish a grits, ham, egg, sausage and bacon as well as a steak and egg sandwich among other items.
Drinks include soft drinks, sweet tea and coffee.
Food is available as eat in or as take out and to go customers are encouraged to call in orders ahead of time at (803) 635-1600.
“It has worked out pretty good, Cassellas said. “We have had a lot of business so far.”
She plans to expand her seating area within a year, in fact.
The Roadrunner Cafe offers dinners or baskets as specials of the day. Patrons can like the restaurant on Facebook and also first time customers receive a discount.
Cassellas has faith that once they taste the Mean Gene burger, or the other potables on her menu that the customers will keep coming back for more of the food that is guaranteed the worst in the county.