Annabel Stolley, the (Retired) Queen of Brunch

Illustration by Danny Hellman

Annabel’s—a brunch-only, Thursday–Sunday restaurant on Mt. Lookout Square—was ahead of its time when it opened in 2008. We asked chef and owner Annabel Stolley, who retired the joint in 2015, about her brief but trailblazing reign.

Why brunch? I wanted to do a daytime thing. And I think because I had such limited hours, we were full all the time. We were open for five hours and had 25 seats. There were a couple days we fed 132 people. I finally slowed it down to 115. I could enjoy that

Were you a morning person? Sort of. But I had to get up at 5 a.m. just to open by 9 a.m. I decided a long time ago I’m not getting up any earlier than that.

What was your cooking philosophy?  If you create a dish that’s unique, to some extent, and really good, you create a taste for that and people have to come to you. There was this dish we called Eggs of the House—it was a slab of grilled cheesy grits, refried black beans, fried eggs, salsa, and sour cream. I still have people stop me on the street and mention it.

What about your food do you think was so memorable?  I cooked the eggs in clarified butter—that might have been the difference. But the other part of that is energy. You can’t cook when you’re angry. People might not know why, but they feel a difference. I know that was part of what was successful at my restaurant: I really loved what I was doing.

Do you miss it?  Yeah, I do. I don’t miss coming home and having to put my feet up all night so I can do it again the next day. But I miss the rest of it.

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