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Early risers at the Sawmill Restaurant

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It's still dark outside, not even twilight when the time the first customers arrive at the Sawmill Restaurant in New Hanover County. Some are even waiting for the doors to open at 6:00 a.m., and there are several regulars that come in every day about that time. That means cooks like Pete Nemmers have to arrive around 4:30. For some, those hours could be difficult to get used too, but he has worked in the restaurant business since 1969. Mr. Nemmers said, “I tried retirement for a while, it just didn't work for me, thought I might as well make myself useful. So I'm back doing what I used to do.” While Mr. Nemmers is pounding out the biscuits, manager Billy Davenport gets to work on the grill. “I pull my eggs out, I start cleaning my grill so eggs don't stick to it, make sure everything on the line is prepped up and ready to go for the day.” By 7:00 a.m., several booths are already filled with regulars who stop at the Sawmill daily for a bite to eat. That usually makes it pretty easy for the wait staff. According to Sawmill waitress Alicia Fitzgerald, “Sometimes you put in their order if you already know what they want to eat, but sometimes they flip-flop on you so you don't want to get too ahead of yourself.” Feeding the breakfast crowd requires a lot of food, particularly eggs; the restaurant can go through about 300 to 350 a day. And in the middle of doing all this, cooks have to start preparing for the lunch crowd. Always staying one step ahead of the game, no matter how early it is. If you're ever craving turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce, it's served there every day...except on Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days of the year that the restaurant is closed.

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