The Family Affair restaurant at 616 26th Street North in Great Falls has been up before dawn for 44 years - but on Friday, September 23, the original family said goodbye, as retirement is knocking on Linda Walden and Karla Husemoller’s door.
For more than 30 years the sisters have been at the helm of Family Affair, and the other 14 were run by their mother when it opened in 1978.
So how are these ladies handling the final day?
“Probably cry when I get home, but right now I'm glad because I'm tired,” said Husemoller.
“I'm excited for my next journey. But it is kind of sad. But we found people that we think are going to fit in really well that are going to kind of match us,” said Walden.
The two are known for building relationships that last a lifetime. Aside from friendships, their food is good too.
Charles Wilson is a regular of more than 30 years at Family Affair. He orders the “Charlie Special,” bacon and eggs. He said, “The service, the hospitality. You know, everybody knows one another. You come here, they know your first name. It’s just a nice place to come.”
When asked what he’ll miss most about the sisters, he said simply, “The friendship.”
That’s the case for Randy Triplett, a 16-year customer who was first in line to get a table at 6:30 in the morning on Friday.
“Not only is it good food and good family, you become friends. So I'm good friends with Linda and Carla. Carla's a cook. Linda is one of the owners and so is Carla and her husband. We become friends over the years.”
It’s where friends become family.
It may be time for Karla and Linda to turn in their keys, but the affair continues with another family - Jonathan and Jacquie Scott. Jacquie is a Great Falls native; her father has been a loyal customer for several years at Family Affair.
The two plan to re-open the restaurant starting November 1, 2022. Their plans include keeping the menu close to the same, adding a few extra items, and expanding hours of operation to include weekends. They have been spending their time in the restaurant the past couple of weeks to learn recipes and to make sure they can keep the same pie tradition.
Jonathan, who will be handling the kitchen duties, noted, “I think it's about carrying on the tradition of quality food that you cook. You know, love for each individual in here and you know the other half that's so important, the customer relationship.”
Before the sisters pass the torch, they weighed in one final time.
“I have the best customers in the world. They are amazing… we’ve been hugging and kissing for two days this week,” said Walden.
“I feel lucky because I got to get up every morning and go to a job that I love. And I didn't mind coming to work. A lot of people go to work, and they hate their jobs. So, I feel lucky that way.”
Without the loyal customers, Linda and Karla’s life wouldn’t be as fulfilled.
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