An E.V. dining dynasty expands - East Valley Tribune: Talking Shop

An E.V. dining dynasty expands

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Jayson Peters writes the pop culture blog Nerdvana at http://blogs.evtrib.com/nerdvana. Follow him on twitter at http;//twitter.com/nerdvana.

Posted: Monday, October 10, 2011 7:05 am | Updated: 9:06 pm, Mon Oct 10, 2011.

For more than 25 years T.C. Eggington’s has been synonymous with breakfast and brunch in Mesa. Now the second generation of the family behind its success is hoping to do the same for morning and afternoon dining in Tempe.

Ncounter opened Aug. 6 at 310 S. Mill Ave. under the management of Ashlee Manuel and Kyndal Coker, the daughters of T.C. Eggington’s founders Thom and Kathy Coker, and Ashlee’s husband Tysen Manuel.

The Mesa institution the family started in 1985 is known for its full-service, sit-down, farmhouse feel. Ncounter is a more urban, quick-serve experience where you order from a counter (get it?) and wait for a server to bring your food out to you. It features an open floorplan with high ceilings and concrete floors and a bar that offers special coffee drinks, smoothies, breakfast cocktails and bottle beers.

Ncounter makes all its food from scratch — a legacy from T.C. Eggington’s — and uses only local produce.

“We’re really big into training and customer service and quality of food, and making sure that it’s right for the customer,” said Tysen Manuel.

One of the things T.C. Eggington’s became known for was its owners’ hands-on role in the training of every new employee. That’s something that the next generation carried with it to Ncounter.

“Thom taught the girls and myself that kind of work ethic, and that’s going to be the key to our success — to keep it really close to us and make sure that everybody’s trained properly and the food’s tasting great,” he said.

When “the kids” wanted to strike out on their own, the heart of downtown Tempe with its light-rail access and school ties was a natural destination for the ASU alumni — and they saw a niche to fill in the downtown area’s renaissance.

“We just thought it was a perfect fit for us,” Manuel said. “Mill Avenue has kind of revitalized itself and it’s coming back.”

That’s important to the family, all of whom are Arizona State graduates who have watched Mill Avenue’s many transformations.

While Ncounter employs many ASU students, the clientele on weekdays trends more toward workers from the downtown financial district, with U.S. Airways, Limelight Networks and Met Life offices all nearby.

“On our weekends, that’s when the students come out and a lot of the locals come out for breakfast and or lunch,” Manuel said.

Ncounter is open 7 a.m. to 3:05 p.m. daily. Signature items include Bananas Foster French toast, chipotle egg burritos and, from T.C. Eggington’s menu, the Natie Bomb, a sandwich on grilled 12-grain bread with smoked bacon, turkey, apple, caramelized onions and cheddar.

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