This October will mark 25 years of working the early shift behind the counter at Al’s Breakfast for Mary Rose Ciatti. “It’s hard to believe,” she said. The unfailingly kind, ever-unflappable Ciatti started as a customer and stepped in when co-owner Doug Grina mentioned that he needed help for a few months. “And I’m still there,” she said with a laugh. “But it has become a part of me, and it keeps me young.” Along with having regularly scheduled access to bacon waffles and blueberry-walnut buttermilk pancakes (view the recipe online), one of the most valuable dividends of taking a frequent seat on one of Al’s 14 stools (Tuesday, Ciatti reports, is the easiest day to get in) is catching the Ciatti-Grina sideshow, a flurry of one-liners (Grina’s nickname for her is “the attack waitress”), delivered with an obvious undercurrent of genuine affection; they’re Dinkytown’s Katie Couric and Matt Lauer. “Doug and I do have a really great rapport,” said Ciatti. “Some people think we’re married. Now that’s really funny.”
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