Thorneycroft is a longtime Norwood resident — she and her husband, James, ran the Cascabel Club for eight happy years — with Thorneycroft in the kitchen, turning out food that is still reminisced about.
The long, long hours of operation are the first change customers might notice at Happy Belly. Her days are so long right now, says Thorneycroft, that she won’t even name an opening time.
“Before 7 a.m.?” this reporter asks helpfully.
“Oh yeah” comes the answer.
As for closing time, she confides, it’s currently around 6:30 p.m., but she’s hoping to close earlier.
“In time for people heading home from work to pick up dinner?”
The next most obvious change just might be the brand new espresso machine — and its aromatic Tomboy Coffee beans – that has already gained a strong local following.
Don’t get too hooked on it, though — like Karen’s before it, the Happy Belly will be closed on weekends.
In a restaurant with two tables and a counter, Thorneycroft has made the sensible call to focus on carryout — dinner specials change daily, and she is updating Karen’s classics by using, for starters,
“a lot more vegetables.”
The drinks selection has gone from Pepsi and Mountain Dew to “natural sodas, San Pellegrino and Naked smoothies,” she adds.
The family came home to Norwood a little over a month ago, when a job in Alabama didn’t work out. Thorneycroft came home with a trophy from their few months there, however -- “Every morning, on the way to school,” says the mother of two, “we passed a Happy Belly Deli.”
Did she ever go in? “No,” she laughs, “but the name stuck.
“It’s a sticky name,” she says.
They house-sat for a friend their first month in town — “we didn’t have jobs, and our house was rented,” she says — and then one day, as she was crossing the street, Karen LaQuey waved them in.
“Karen said when she saw us, she knew we were going to buy it,” Thorneycroft says now. Sure enough, an earlier sale was just at the point of falling through, and Thorneycroft jumped.
Thorneycroft’s reward: 12-plus hour days working with a staff of two (her husband, James, has “a real job that makes money,” she says, as a contractor).
“I’m doing what I love,” she says.