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Loyal Customers Save Popular Worcester Restaurant

WORCESTER (CBS) - You know that place where everybody knows you name? Well it's really in Worcester. And when Annie's Clark Brunch faced a crisis, her customers from around the world answered the call.

Ann Jenkins is a force. Since 1991 she's owned Annie's Clark Brunch. And with her daughter Megan, runs the little breakfast-lunch place on the edge of Clark University.

"Actually she bought the restaurant on my birthday, my 13th birthday in 1991. So it was my present to work here for the rest of my life," says Megan, with tongue firmly in her cheek.

Ann says just about everyone comes to the place. "They do. If they can find a parking spot," Ann jokes. "You really can't get a better meal at a better price than here at Annie's," says one regular customer.

But recently Ann learned she's going to have to spend at least $50,000 to bring her kitchen, grill and fire system up to code. "Well, I cried," she says.

With a three egg omelet with toast and home fries costing $4.75, and a cup of coffee with two refills for a buck, Annie doesn't have that kind of money. But then something extraordinary happened. All those people who hung out at Annies, who found a welcome and a kind word, former and current Clark students and staff, as well as people from the Main South neighborhood, decided to say 'thank you.'

"It is amazing how many people are remembering," Annie says. "This place is a second home for me, but I'm not unique. It's a second home for everyone," says Casey Starr who started a funding page for Annie.

"People have responded from around the world, old Clark students, we've gotten responses from India, from England, from Thailand," she says.

And from right around the corner, including the offer of an interest free loan from the university, which owns the building.

"Annie has given of herself and taken care of students for so many years. Now it's a chance for them to give back and show her their love and their gratitude," says Jack Foley, an administrator at Clark and an Annie's regular.

"It's remarkable, remarkable. I am tearing up. I've been doing that a lot lately," says Annie. "So much love is being given to my mother and it's so amazing to me because she has really given so much of herself over these years," says Megan Zawalich, Annie's daughter and co-worker.

"How do you thank people? I say that to them all the time and you know what they say? Get your butt back here and work. Get back out front and start cooking," Annie says. And that's just what she plans to do.

Annie's is closing in a week for the renovations. She hopes to reopen before the new semester begins. So far, the fundraising effort has raised nearly $30,000.

To learn about the fundraiser:


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