It was more than 30 years ago when Beverly Nolan learned an important lesson about cooking. “Anyone can cook,” a friend told her. “But not everyone can season.”
Not long after that, the friend died and Beverly felt “the need” to cook. She went out and bought $300 worth of seasonings.
As her cooking skills grew and developed, she took a leap of faith and opened a restaurant — Nolan’s Diner. Her food was simple and unpretentious, but most importantly, it was delicious. The restaurant was a big hit.
Actually, it was too big a hit.
Although her two oldest children were no longer at home, Beverly still had two younger ones to care for. With her husband, Luke Nolan, away on travel a lot for his job, Beverly was overwhelmed by her own success. She closed the diner and returned to her life as a homemaker, doing a bit of catering on the side.
Two decades later, she felt God tugging at her heart, encouraging her to take her talents of hospitality and cooking and share them with others. Those were true gifts, she realized — something she could teach her own children and leave behind for them.
So it was that Beverly, along with her now-retired husband, opened their own restaurant — Nolan’s Homestyle — in the same location as her first diner.
It is a family business that has quickly become one of Anniston’s most popular eateries. A key factor in its success is Beverly’s vow to cook just like she does at home. If it isn’t up to her standards, it won’t be served.
Henry Ford once said, “Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is a progress, working together is a success.” That quote speaks volumes about the Nolan family.
While Beverly and Luke supervise the operation, sons Kevin, Michael and William and grandson Rodney Jr. work as short-order cooks and man the front line. Daughter Rhonda and family friend Shaquille are the wait staff, and daughter-in-law Fatima handles the cash register. Indeed, their “working together” is the “success” that Ford described.
Luke is quick to give credit for that to his wife. “She is determined, wonderful and a strong Christian influence,” he said. “I thank God for letting her be my wife.”
Beverly’s motto is “we shall work all the days of our lives,” and it is that philosophy she has taught her children.
Fatima, who has been a part of the Nolan family for 19 years, said Beverly has taught her how to cook, how to be a mom and how to embody a spiritual walk. Son Michael said it best — “I can’t tell you what I haven’t learned from my mom.”
And then there’s the food, which is home cooking at its best. Each day offers a variety of different entrée items such as meatloaf, fried chicken, ribs and so on. The list of vegetable sides is long and seriously tantalizing, as are the dessert options.
For those with smaller appetites, an a la carte menu offers burgers, sandwiches and salads.
Debbi Clonts and her friend, Betsy Davis, are frequent customers, but don’t ask them what their favorite menu item is. “The menu changes daily,” Betsy said. “And I’ve loved everything I have ordered.”
Debbi agrees, although when pressed, she said the vegetables are standouts. “Whatever you get, you’ll be taking some home,” she said. “The portions are more than generous.”
Nolan’s Homestyle is located at 916 W. 10th St. in Anniston. They open each weekday at 10:30 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Monday-Tuesday, and at 6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday. Closed on weekends. A detailed menu can be found online at nolanshomestyle.com.
Donna Barton’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at email@example.com.