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A labor of love: The woman behind Two-Bit Street Cafe

Two-Bit Street Cafe sign.

Upon first stepping into Two-Bit Street Cafe on Historic 25th Street, one may think that the best thing about the restaurant is the charming historical atmosphere, or the delectable food served inside.

While both of these aspects certainly add to the wonderful experience of dining there, the best thing about the cafe is the people that work there. Especially the cafe’s owner Penny Allred-Dayley.

Allred-Dayley is, for the most part, a self-taught chef. She took a few cooking classes in England, but other than those classes, the rest she taught herself.

“I’ve been cooking since I was old enough to get up to the stove,” Allred-Dayley said.

Her dishes are primarily made from a variety of family recipes, recipes learned through her travels and recipes she made up on her own.

Allred-Dayley doesn’t write down the majority of her recipes. She keeps each one committed to memory.

“I mostly do not write down recipes, I don’t need to,” Allred-Dayley said. “It’s all up here, it’s all in the brain matter. I have an arsenal now of about 80 soups and I don’t think I have one of them that I’ve written down.”

Andrew Shorts and Rylee Fredrickson, both servers for Two-Bit Street Cafe, love working with Allred-Dayley.

“Penny is the definition of authenticity,” Shorts said.

Aside from her talented cooking, another impressive thing about Allred-Dayley is the genuine love, care and appreciation she has for each one of her customers.

It’s far from unusual to walk into the cafe and see her sitting at a table talking with customers.

Allred-Dayley recalls many individuals she’s had the privilege of watching grow up through the years, and she holds each one of them near to her heart.

“It’s never been about the money. It’s been more of a way to connect to the community and a way for me to give back to people,” Allred-Dayley said.

Allred-Dayley never ceases to go above and beyond for her customers. On several occasions a customer has come to her with food specifications like being gluten free, vegetarian or vegan. When timing allows, she will go to the kitchen and make up a recipe on the spot that is accommodating to the customers’ specific needs.

Allred-Dayley describes her 20 years of owning Two-Bit Street Cafe as a “labor of love.”

Although owning a restaurant is demanding, time consuming and draining at times, Allred-Dayley believes that her time at the cafe has been one of the most rewarding experiences of her life.

Throughout much of Allred-Dayley’s life she’s had many people telling her to open a restaurant. She always said no for fear that it would take the enjoyment out of cooking once it became her job, but now that it is her job, Allred-Dayley’s only regret is that she didn’t do it sooner.

“We go through our lives and we’re never sure where it’s going to lead us, but that’s life. You’re not always in control and you can’t be,” Allred-Dayley said. “You just do the best you can and try the best you can and always do your best. Put in your best effort. All that matters is if you can take pride in what you do.”

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Gracie Stephenson, Culture reporter

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