Mother-daughter team at Milton's Scratch...fresh adapt to coronavirus

Mother-daughter duo Kelley (left) and Samantha (right) Hughes opened Scratch...fresh in Milton 10 years ago, and chose to remain open while the COVID-19 pandemic shut down dining rooms in restaurants statewide through April 27. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mother-daughter duo Kelley (left) and Samantha (right) Hughes opened Scratch...fresh in Milton 10 years ago, and chose to remain open while the COVID-19 pandemic shut down dining rooms in restaurants statewide through April 27. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mother-daughter duo Kelley (left) and Samantha (right) Hughes opened Scratch...fresh in Milton 10 years ago, and chose to remain open while the COVID-19 pandemic shut down dining rooms in restaurants statewide through April 27. (Kara McIntyre/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Scratch...fresh has separate breakfast and lunch menus featuring dishes such as the Grilled Chicken Salad ($8.99), the Bourbon Glazed Chicken & Grits ($9.99) and the Chicken Salad Sandwich ($6.99). The restaurant also serves handmade milkshakes in a variety of flavors. (Courtesy Scratch...fresh)
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The Scratch Burger ($5.99) has two patties with a guest's choice of toppings. (Courtesy Scratch...fresh)
Scratch...fresh owner Kelley Hughes was planning on celebrating her restaurant’s 10-year anniversary on May 10. She wanted to hold a party for her customers—especially her regulars—who she said have built up her restaurant to what it is today.

However, the outbreak of COVID-19—the infectious disease caused by the coronavirus—changed her plans. Even though Gov. Brian Kemp allowed restaurants to reopen dining rooms beginning April 27, social distancing guidelines and other health-related regulations for restaurant employees postponed any plans for an anniversary celebration, Hughes said.

For example, she said it is not uncommon for her to hug her regulars, or to pat a customer on the back when dropping off food to their table. But now she worries she will not be able to even do that anymore.

“We are a small, family-owned restaurant and we have regulars to the point that we have phone numbers for our customers—they call us, we call them,” Hughes said. “So when we see them, it’s nothing for us to hug ... That part of it is a little frightening to me that we’re going to lose that sense of touch, and what does that do to our relationships?”

Hughes said she initially started working at Milton’s Scratch...fresh in 2010 after her daughter Samantha—who now runs the restaurant with her mother—left for college and she needed something to do after being a stay-at-home mom. After three months of working there, the previous owner asked if she would run the restaurant, according to Hughes.


The restaurant has since grown from a 36-seat dining room to a dining room and outdoor patio to seat about 90 patrons, she said. Every menu item is made fresh to order, and Hughes said she and the staff make most ingredients in house.

“We’re small; we don’t have advertising dollars and the community just kind of wrapped their arms around us and said, ‘Hey, we love you guys, we love this place,’ and they spread the word,” she said. “Ten years is a big deal in the restaurant industry. It stinks that we can’t celebrate our anniversary and honor all of our wonderful customers, but it is what it is right now.”

Scratch...fresh’s dining rooms closed in mid-March to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, Hughes said, and the staff switched to curbside pickup orders only—something they did not previously offer. They have since added a delivery option via DoorDash as well, and Hughes said they decided to keep both additional services after they reopen their dining room.

As restaurant owners like Hughes try to adapt to a new normal even with dining rooms reopened, Hughes said she is still grateful to be in the greater Alpharetta and Milton communities through the process. As of press time May 22, Scratch...fresh's dining room had not yet reopened.

“We have become a community gathering place and we’re so grateful for that and appreciate to Alpharetta and Milton,” Hughes said.

Scratch...fresh

12890 Hwy. 9, Ste. 160, Milton

678-393-9059

www.scratchfreshburgers.com

Hours: Sun.-Sat. 7 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
By Kara McIntyre
Kara started with Community Impact Newspaper as the summer intern for the south Houston office in June 2018 after graduating with a bachelor's degree in mass communication from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. She became the reporter for north Houston's Tomball/Magnolia edition in September 2018, moving to Alpharetta in January 2020 after a promotion to be the editor of the Alpharetta/Milton edition, which is Community Impact's first market in Georgia.