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Sinnamon Shop Puts the 'Comfort' in Comfort Food

“People have said that it’s 'Cheers' for the food group,” says Joe Sinnamon, who opened the restaurant in Manchester 25 years ago.

Your really good friend needs some one-on-one time. You never get together as often as you'd like. Life is so swamped these days. And both your families have struggled in the unforgiving economy. Speaking of, you need a place that has top-notch food at low prices. And comfort.

You don’t want much. We know where to go.

Tucked away on Oak Street in downtown Manchester is Sinnamon Shop, where Joe Sinnamon serves as owner, manager, chef and whatever else is needed.

“People have said that it’s Cheers for the food group,” says Sinnamon, who opened the restaurant 25 years ago. “That wasn’t necessarily the goal when we started but that’s what it’s become.”

The goal he has most in mind is to “put out a good meal at a fair price” and offer old-fashioned home cooking, almost all from scratch. He buys local and comes up with specials from whatever is good that day, including the Friday fish specials. On St. Pat's he served Irish soda bread, his grandmother’s recipe.

Sinnamon draws a band of regulars – a former columnist and gubernatorial speechwriter, a banker, a doctor, “all strata” – who breakfast at his counter many mornings a week, but his place also offers a back room with cozy tables and unbelievably capable and friendly waitresses, who seem to see their work as a calling.

Not only that, they help with the food, too. Sinnamon, who spent seven years at Cavey’s in Manchester and earned an associate’s degree in food management at Manchester Community College, taught them. Now Laurie wields a mean knife prepping vegetables for soups, salads and sauces. Chrissy, who works the counter, makes the desserts from scratch.

“We make pie crust, we don’t buy pie crust,” Sinnamon says proudly, and adds, “I do the muffins, I have those in the oven before she comes in.”

Sinnamon starts his day at 6 a.m. and works about 100 hours a week. Caught on Friday night after hours, he was cleaning the filters on the exhaust hood, de-scaling the dishwasher, doing some paperwork, preparing vendor orders and cleaning the fridge, stove and oven.

The warmth of the place makes you want to hear an anecdote or two, but you’ll have to ask the other customers; Joe’s too busy.

“When I take my shower at night, I wash the day away and I don’t look back. I look forward.”

There are always those muffins to make in the morning.

The Sinnamon Shop, 21 Oak St., Manchester, serves breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, and breakfast on Saturday, cash only. Joe rests on Sunday. For information, call 860-643-8658.

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