The bright lights shining at the southwest corner of Second and Walnut streets before dawn every morning announce that Samantha Weerts has the coffee brewing and the breakfast muffins and croissants ready and waiting.
Weerts has just opened the latest eating establishment in Peabody — Sammie Jo’s Shake-n-Bistro — at 127 N. Walnut.
The restaurant has a central and visible kitchen and work area where Weerts and her sister, Jacey Moore, create sandwiches, wraps, salads, and drinks to order.
“We want to give people a variety and we want to be able to provide it quickly if that is how they want it,” Weerts said. “Lots of people here commute to another town to work. We hope to be able to catch them on their way and provide lattes or a favorite ground coffee and something to eat that is not only easy to handle, but is nutritious and tastes good.”
Weerts serves hot breakfast sandwiches of biscuits, English muffins, and croissants with a choice of meat, egg, and cheese fillings.
“If people are heading out of town, they can call ahead and we will have it ready for them,” she said.
She provides a wide variety of sandwiches and wraps with a side salad or chips for lunch and supper. Everything is made to order. The menu offers nine basic sandwiches with a choice of a dozen additional ingredients.
Ice cream, shakes, malts, limeades, and fountain drinks fill out the offerings at Sammie Jo’s.
“Ice cream has already been a big seller for us,” Weerts said. “I’m sure the temperature has something to do with that. But it is a good excuse for a family outing as well — take the kids out in the late afternoon or evening for ice cream.”
The central kitchen section in the restaurant divides the building and creates a kids’ corner at the back of the building and an area for adults at the front. Eventually the kids’ space will have arcade games. Right now, it is geared more toward young children and has a chalk wall for drawing, games, and child-sized furniture made from plastic pipe.
“We want kids to come in and have something to do,” Weerts said. “We want it to be sort of like the old-time soda fountain, but with more current entertainment, food, and drink choices. But we also want adults to come in and meet their friends, have coffee and baked goods, visit, and enjoy themselves.”
Weerts said she has hoped to be able to do something like this for a long time.
“I love cook and especially love to bake. I always wanted to have my own niche in the food industry. I did the baking for Peabody Care Center for the special care unit and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t really what I wanted,” she said. “I am hoping that as we get past the first month or so here and get all the kinks worked out, I can concentrate more on daily baked goods specials like donuts and cinnamon rolls.
“This is just really what I want to do. I want to serve good food to people who enjoy it,” she said. “And I do want feedback — good or bad, I want to hear it. I won’t be able to fix a problem if I don’t know there is one.”
Sammie Jo’s Shake-n-Bistro is open 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday; and 4 to 7 p.m. on Sundays.