It was kismet. But somehow, Starla Feldbush knew it from the very start. She’d always called the place “her restaurant,” even well before it became hers, officially. She just had a particular feeling about it. Today, that same adoring impulse of hers and sense of care pervades Puyallup’s home-style diner, Mrs. Turner’s Hometown Café and will so well into the future if Feldbush and her husband, James, have anything to say about it. Together, the two co-owners bring their comforting, reliable and delectable breakfast fare, hearty burgers and other piping hot fan favorites to the tables of both newcomers and longtime patrons, some of whom continue to spend their time and hard-earned dollars there daily.
“I always told my friends, ‘Come to my restaurant, come to my restaurant!'” Feldbush says. “Little did I know….”
It was 1978 when Feldbush got her first job waiting tables, fresh from high school graduation. Some years later, she moved to Hawaii on a whim with a friend. In between, she’d met her future husband, who she would reconnect with once she came home for good to Washington. When she finally returned from Hawaii in 1991, Feldbush remembered Mrs. Turner’s. She’d grown up a quarter-mile from the place, and she used to go there on Sundays with her family and eat fried chicken. So, she applied for a job when she came back stateside. She was quickly given a position. Not long after, she and James married. Now, Feldbush has been at the restaurant for thirty years, and she and James have owned it for some 17.
“I worked for Mr. and Mrs. Turner in 1991,” Feldbush remembers. “A year later, they sold it to a man named Paul Patrick. I worked for him for 11 years, and he used to tell me, ‘I would be honored to pass it down to you.’”
At the time, Feldbush didn’t know if she’d be ready to run the place. She’d never taken a business class or run a place before from top-to-bottom. But when the time came, she took up the reigns and knew she’d do whatever it took to keep the spot running. Before taking it over, things had fallen a bit by the wayside. Ownership had often been absent, which didn’t engender a shipshape ship. But when Feldbush took over, she tightened operations. Mrs. Turner’s has been a beloved community hub ever since. James, who worked for 35 years as a welder, also later came on board. Today, he takes care of the place and does all of its repairs.
“I love my restaurant. I love everything about it,” Feldbush says. “I knew that if I had to go door-to-door offering coupons, I would. I was determined. If you like where you work, if you like what you have – and I do! I love what I do. I love the people. I love the restaurant business.”
Mrs. Turner’s, which was founded in 1966, serves what might be on the grill in your family’s kitchen on your birthday. The place is known for its chicken-fried steak and its farmer’s approved bacon and eggs. “There’s meat on our bacon,” Feldbush says. “It’s not like Scotch tape!” Also, the biscuits with hamburger gravy (made fresh daily) are a popular choice. While Mrs. Turner’s has specific breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, all the items are available at any time during business hours. A party of two should expect to spend about $40 for a meal. While the shop closes at 1 p.m. daily, it hosts regular Friday night classic car shows from June to August on-site, during which hamburgers and hotdogs are available fresh off the barbecue.
“Ours is a hometown café,” Feldbush says of her 100-person-capacity restaurant. “You don’t find a ton of breakfast places in town, so we’re really busy.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Turner’s remained open every day. Some patrons took advantage of that — also, daily. While the eatery had remained open until 7 p.m., Feldbush and company have recently shifted the hours to manage demand as streamlined as possible as the world continues to change and evolve. While the place isn’t open for traditional dinner hours, Feldbush says supper-time favorites like the meatloaf, spaghetti and pot roast are still available to those who ask. The idea, of course, is to make sure you’re as comfortable as can be.
“When you’re here, you’re home,” Feldbush says. “We’re where people come to meet old friends and make new ones, which I just love. We’ve got that hometown feeling, for sure.”
Mrs. Turner’s Hometown Café
701 E Main Ave.,