Every family has its own traditions. Some traditions are more unique than others; some people aren’t that strict about theirs; and other families are diehard sticklers for keeping up the traditions they’ve built.
For Dadeville native Clark Burton, his tradition is eating chicken and dressing every Sunday at Oskar’s Cafe in Dadeville.
Sunday he reached a milestone as he sat down to eat the Southern staple for the 550th time. For 12 years now, Burton has taken his family to eat at the local restaurant after church on Sundays and ordered the same thing every time.
“People ask me how long I’ll keep up my tradition and I say, ‘As long as they keep it on the menu,’” Burton said. “Most of the waitresses don’t ask me what I want. They know I’m getting chicken and dressing. They just ask which vegetables I want.”
The tradition started because Burton noticed no restaurants in the area sold the dish yet it is something he thought many residents would like to eat. Burton said a lot of the Lake Martin area church crowds go to Oskar’s after Sunday services and knowing they’d enjoy it, he suggested owner Mark Albertson start serving chicken and dressing.
Burton said Albertson called him a couple weeks later and told him the restaurant would have the dish that coming Sunday for him to try.
“We came in and had chicken and dressing, and Mark followed up with me later that week to see how I liked it,” he said. “I told him it was great — not too wet, not too dry, just perfect.”
Albertson said suggestions are always welcome from customers and Burton’s suggestion of chicken and dressing was a hit.
“We made five or six pans that first Sunday — which is a lot of dressing by the way,” Albertson said. “It went over well so I told (Burton) we’d do it every Sunday.”
Burton innocently committed to eating it again that Sunday but before he knew it had become habitual. It started at two weeks then it was a few months. Now it’s grown to be the norm every Sunday for 12 years.
Of all the dishes the restaurant serves, Oskar’s top sellers are its chicken and dressing — served only on Sundays — and its appetizer of cheese balls, which is served seven days a week.
Surprisingly, Burton doesn’t get tired of eating the classic cornbread-based dish once a week.
“You eat three meals a day, seven days a week, so that’s 21 meals,” Burton said. “One out of 21 ain’t bad.”
Burton, who owns Burton Lawnscape Inc., even takes his work crew to eat at Oskar’s a few days a week. Albertson attested to Burton eating at his restaurant all the time.
“My family eats here pretty much every Sunday anyway and I love chicken and dressing,” Burton said. “A lot of people just want it for Thanksgiving and Christmas but hey, there’s 10 more months out of the year you can eat it. I just love chicken and dressing; it’s good.”
Besides holidays or vacations, Burton hasn’t missed a Sunday and doesn’t plan to stop the tradition any time soon.
“It’s just a traditional Southern thing to have chicken and dressing on Sunday,” Albertson said. “It’s a hit. If you haven’t tried it, I suggest you do. We don’t want anybody missing out.”
Albertson said the recipe has been tweaked a little bit but it’s very similar to what was served that trial-run Sunday 12 years ago.
“We’ve had employees contribute to getting recipes right,” Albertson said. “We’ve got great people that work with us and they do a nice job of executing that dish.”
Oskar’s is a family-owned and operated business that has been open for 26 years as of Aug. 5. Its customer base consists of people who live around Lake Martin as well as out-of-town visitors.
The restaurant offers a variety of food on its menu and although Burton is its biggest fan, chicken and dressing isn’t the only meal served on Sundays. Albertson said there is always a secondary meat for patrons to choose from plus they can order from Oskar’s full menu as well.
Oskar’s fall hours are Sunday through Thursday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.