Meet the owner: Brighton Cafe’s Katherine Taing talks scrambled eggs and devoted regulars

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Allston/Brighton contains plenty of creative, ambitious eateries — plus a few joints whose business models hinge on wasted BU kids who will pay just about anything for a slice of pizza at 2 a.m. However, to order a tomato and feta omelette with home fries and toast, all for about $5, on a Tuesday afternoon is to know true magic and wonder. Thus, we salute Katherine Taing, matriarch of The Brighton Cafe, as well as Twin Donuts in Union Square.
When we dropped in for coffee and an egg and cheese English muffin, she explained that her family keeps Cafe noms mega-affordable by eschewing supply distributors in favor of Restaurant Depot.

What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened during your 11 years here?

We’ve witnessed a lot of accidents. The Green Line has hit a few cars within the last 10 years.

Whoa. This is a pretty hazardous area.

It’s not very hazardous. It’s just that we’re bystanders in the line of the crazy intersection here.

How would you characterize your regulars?

They eat the same thing every day, to the point where it’s like, “The usual?” “Yeah.” “The usual?” “Yeah.”

What’s the most interesting thing anyone orders daily?

The same plate of eggs, actually. It’s almost, like, the mundanity of it. I don’t know how this one customer ate it every single day: Coffee, scrambled eggs and toast. Recently, he’s changed to fried eggs.

What do you think prompted the switch?

I don’t know. We had already made the scrambled eggs, and he was like, “No, I want something else today.” A lot of people have their signature plates and signature coffees. Coffees usually don’t change.

What’s up with all the different Washington Streets? It seems like every neighborhood has one.

We get a lot of people coming in for directions. Usually, this isn’t the Washington Street they’re looking for. Usually, they’re looking for the downtown Washington Street, and I have to tell them to drive back into the city. The fact that we’re next to the Washington T Stop, that confuses a lot of people too.

Who’s the most aggravating customer you’ve ever encountered? 

Okay, we have this one lady who’s…I think she’s a little disturbed. She panhandles. We’ve banned her, like, numerous times, and she keeps begging to come in. I don’t let her in. My husband will, because she begs. I ignore her, but he’s softhearted. I think she’s not taking her meds or something. I’m like, “We’re not the only place that has coffee. You can get coffee somewhere else.” But she always wants this coffee.


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