Local soul food restaurant serves up down-home feeling

The sizzling sound of eggs work in harmony with the sound of bacon popping from griddle to griddle, while the toast jumps up and is slathered with butter.

“Start those cheese grits. Who’s ready for an omelet?” she yells.

Gospel music lingers in the air and the smell of satisfaction readies appetites for breakfast. It is about 7 a.m. and the work day has barely begun for Olean McCaskill.

Olean’s Restaurant on South Adams street is a place where many Tallahassee locals and students go to eat a good home-cooked meal. What was first Olean’s Breakfast Shop in the Department of Revenue building has now developed into a local hot spot.

Coincidentally, Olean’s used to be Dave’s Fried Chicken for which McCaskill worked when she was 18. Inspired by God and driven by a dream, McCaskill has been able to keep Olean’s running for eight years.

“It’s love that keeps us running,” McCaskill said. “Love for the customers, the love of cooking and the love of God.”

This self-proclaimed superwoman has been in the cooking business for 40 years.

The Alabama native has been married for 35 years and is the mother of two sons. Learning her trade from her grandmother, McCaskill has taken what she learned and introduced it to the city.

Neglecting the use of measuring cups and cook books, McCaskill says that cooking just comes naturally to her and it is what she loves to do. Generally known as Ms. Olean, Ms. O, Mama O or just plain Mama, McCaskill said each one of her customers is treated as a part of her family.

“Some students,I have a relationship with as if they were my own, ” she said.

“She’s cool people,” said Clarence Brown, a sophomore electrical engineering student from the Virgin Islands.

Brown, who has worked at Olean’s for a little over a year, has stamped McCaskill as his second mother.

“She looks out for me,” he said.

With all the commotion of food being cooked and the daily customer traffic, there is a presence that calms the atmosphere. There is a feeling of home. The feeling that Olean’s gives you is a calming one. A feeling that allows you to escape from the chaos on the other side of the window.

“Do what you love,” McCaskill said. “It just makes life better.”

Contact Glenn Childs at childs_gm@hotmail.com.