Go back in time at the M & M Restaurant
Diner a mainstay in Sussex

By KELLY SMITH - Special to Conley Media

April 6, 2019

    

Laura Babits and her brother Didier work behind the counter of the M & M restaurant in Sussex that has been owned by their family for nearly 40 years.
Kelly Smith/Special to Conley Media

SUSSEX — The sign on the door entering the M & M Restaurant on Main Street helps describe the “old school” philosophy of its owners.

“Cash or Check Only, No Credit Cards.”

“Credit cards are too much paperwork and they want 2 percent,” explained Didier Babits, co-owner of the restaurant at N64W23316 Main St.

Instead, the top priority is to provide customers with “good food at a decent price that anyone can afford,” Didier said.

“I don’t want to lose money, but I don’t want to make a killing on anyone either,” he added.

Didier and his sister Laura are often working together behind the counter of the iconic café that their family has owned for nearly 40 years.

“If you are part of the family, you have worked here at some point in your life,” Didier quipped.

           

M& M waitress Nicole Fillback chats with “the regulars” having breakfast around the
horseshoe-shaped Formica top service counter.

The restaurant shares space in a small one-story commercial building on the east end of Main Street with One Click, a local computer service shop.

No one — not even village historian Fred Keller — is sure how old the building is, but Keller says there has been a restaurant there for more than a half century.

The interior décor is reminiscent of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A Formica top counter where customers sit stretches along a wall, almost the entire length of the café.

One end of the counter, located just inside the entrance, is shaped into a horseshoe where the “regulars,” older men with gray hair, some with beards, sit and talk about family, friends, sports and politics.

Customers sitting at the counter along the wall can literally watch their food orders being prepared from the grill, steam table and deep fryer, in front of them.

On the opposite wall, are booths.

In the middle, chrome trimmed tables and chairs with seats covered with Naugahyde, a vinyl faux leather that was popular during the middle of the 20th century.

The restaurant has an eclectic clientele.

The breakfast crowd includes contractors ordering steak and eggs, omelets, or biscuits and gravy.

Both senior citizens and high school students hang out for lunch.

The kids eating hamburgers.

The elders often order the soup and sandwich special or open face hot beef or turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and gravy.

Didier, 63, was born in France, moved to the United States, graduated from Custer High School, and later enrolled in the Milwaukee Area Technical College hospitality management program.

Didier’s father Steve was Hungarian.

His mother, Nichole, is 88 and French.

They met and married in France before migrating in the 1960s to the United States where they worked in various restaurants before owning two establishments, the Café Lac La Belle in Oconomowoc and the M & M.

They eventually sold the café in Oconomowoc which later became Spinnakers and was recently demolished to make way for high end lake front condos.

“It got be too much for them,” Didier said.

“One was a tavern (Café Lac La Belle) so you had to stay up late and the other served breakfast (M & M) so you had to be up early the next morning,” Didier explained.

“When I open up at 6 in the morning, there are often five or six customers waiting outside the door,” explained waitress Nicole Fillbach.

Inside the door is a money machine for those customers without cash or checks.