It’s the kind of place where the waitresses serve regular customers’ drinks before they even sit down; where some of those regulars come to eat every single weekday.

Mom’s Country Kitchen, a long-time East Aldine tradition, is also a favorite place for some Houston travelers to avoid the craziness of the parking and drop-off confusion at Bush Intercontinental Airport, just a few minutes away.

Mom’s Country Kitchen has been serving home-style cooking at 14428 Aldine Westfield Road for nearly 30 years, in an old wood-frame house that has slowly been expanded as the demand for chicken-fried steak, liver and onions, pork chops and mashed potatoes and green beans has remained steady. The lunch menu changes daily, with different main courses served with a wide variety of vegetables, and a different cobbler.

And there is always “Nana’s Banana Pudding,” a heavenly concoction described this way on the take-out menu: “If you don’t know what this is already, we don’t know if we can help you.”

The restaurant is also home to what might be the largest and oldest pothos ivy plant in the area. It now serves as a massive room divider between two sections of the eatery.

The plant was started by founder Deborah Critikos, who retired after years of cooking. But her famous banana pudding remains on the menu.

Mom’s is now owned by Jenna Cash, with floor manager John Michael Garcia overseeing the kitchen and wait staff, as well as the restaurant’s social media sites and a recent food drive benefiting the Houston Food Bank.

Garcia, a business graduate of Sam Houston State University, worked his way through college waiting tables and started at Mom’s as a waiter. When Cash bought the restaurant about three years ago, he moved up to floor manager, using some of the management skills he learned in college.

With help from the Aldine Westfield Fire Department and a local charity, Garcia said the recent food drive at the restaurant was “a big success” that resulted in a free Thanksgiving dinner for 10 for one long-time customer.

“For us, it’s become a way to give back to the community,” Garcia said. “In this area of town, there are a lot of people who are in need of food. And so, it’s just a good way to give back at the holiday season.”

Garcia has been experimenting with promoting the restaurant through social media, including a “meet the staff” Facebook page.

John Michael Garcia

And, while Mom’s has stayed true to its county-style Southern home cooking roots, the menu has been updated a little.

While the breakfast menu includes chicken and waffles, an old Southern favorite, there is also avocado toast served on “an artistan, multi-grain bread” with a side of fresh fruit salad.

Waitress Carmen Sotelo, who has worked at Mom’s for several years, said she loves”working at the restaurant, where she earns enough to support her seven children.

“There’s a lot of regulars who are very generous to me,” Sotelo said. “There’s one man who comes in every day, and it brightens my day just to see him. He is the sweetest man in the world.”

 Mom’s is part of the East Aldine tradition, Sotelo said.

“It’s a real community,” she said.

“It’s a great work environment. The customers are all very nice, and my co-workers are great,” Sotelo said. “Because I know so many people in the neighborhood, it makes it more fun.”

While lunch is the busiest time at Mom’s, Garcia said the breakfast crowd is growing. He has noticed that several local business owners have been holding regular meetings at a large conference table there.

The lunch menu changes daily, with “alerts” on the restaurant’s Facebook page about specialties like chicken pot pie, gumbo and chicken and dumplings.

The restaurant is open Monday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mom’s also offers an extensive take-out menu, including servings of that famous banana pudding.

— by Anne Marie Kilday