Two years ago, Marcia Cherrito turned a storefront on Parkville's main shopping drag into Shabby Hattie's, a tearoom that served lunch, a wide selection of flavored teas, and various geegaws and gift items. The place is cute as hell, and the food is good, but Cherrito realized that she needed another source of income to keep her business going in this economy. So she recently brought her sewing machine into the restaurant and has started sewing for her customers.
That's right: Each afternoon, after lunch service ends at 2:30 p.m., Cherrito pulls aside a set of pink floral curtains in the back of the narrow dining room and rolls out her electric sewing machine. For the last few weeks, she has been replacing zippers, hemming up pant cuffs, whipping up chair covers and pillows, repairing torn shirt sleeves, and anything else that requires a needle and thread.
It's like going home to visit Mom on spring break — with tea and scones. The difference is that Mom might perform those necessary sewing repairs on the spot, Cherrito may require a couple of days. "I love to sew," Cherrito says, "but I'm still cooking everything from scratch, too."
Cherrito is still making a daily quiche, terrific soups, hot sandwiches, sweet and savory scones and heavenly cream pies — her chocolate cream pie is definitely the best in the metro — for customers who wander in six days a week for lunch. Only now, patrons can get a side of custom-made chair covers with that grilled-cheese sandwich.
Cherrito is also considering changing the name of her bistro to Shabby Hattie's Couture Cafe. It sounds kind of snooty, but Cherrito does make custom gowns upon request and has the photo album to prove it. She's also perfectly happy to mend a fraying fringed hippie vest from the 1970s or make matching shams for a dashing duvet cover. And if a customer decides to sit down and chat and maybe eat a bowl of "Five Cup Salad" (sour cream, mandarin oranges, pineapple, coconut, and marshmallows), too, Cherrito is open for sewing business until 4 p.m.