For the past 22 years, Carman's Country Kitchen has been an offbeat South Philly staple. The itty-bitty corner brunch spot -- adorned with various knick-knacks and coffee mugs you wouldn't want your mom to see -- is known not only for its food but also for the woman in the back cooking it. Carman Luntzel is the charming owner responsible for it all, and if you haven't had the fortune of sitting down at her table, you'll need to make room in your schedule immediately: This country kitchen is, we're sad to report, due to close its doors Dec. 16.
Say it ain't so! Why did you decide to close?
I didn't. My landlord decided to take it over himself and open a pizza shop. He sent me a letter about the building and I called him right away. Finally, he told me that he didn't want to rent the place anymore, he wanted it for himself. I thought it over and decided to take the opportunity to go on and try something different with my life.
What's that going to be?
I'm moving to the corner of North and South Carolina. It's got a great backyard for my animals and my grandkids who live nearby. By early next year, I want to start as a private chef, making meals for people in their houses and on their boats. I'll do that for a year or two.
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Hopefully, I can go work in other countries. I love to travel -- I shop and cook wherever I go. You have to be kind of out there and comfortable with dealing with people.
What will you miss most about Philly and your restaurant?
My customers. They're outspoken, educated and opinionated people. But I'll be just one exit out of Charlotte and with plenty of room if they want to visit.
Will you be going out with a bang on the last day?
Nope, just steady as she goes and keep the boat straight.
If you go
Carman’s Country Kitchen (1301 S. 11th St.) is open through Sunday, Dec. 16.