In fact she never even worked in a restaurant until she opened her own uniquely named cafe almost two years ago in Fruitland. (Abernathy says she could never get hired as a server. She was told that it was because she didn't have any experience.)
When asked why someone with no experience or previous desire would open a restaurant, Abernathy simply says "Who knows? Maybe insanity."
"I guess it all started with my grandfather. He had Marfan syndrome, which caused him to have heart problems so when I was a little girl I was the grandchild elected to care for him. What I did for him all of those years is what I do now," Abernathy said. She said her duties were to administer his medications and to cook his meals -- now she is a restaurant owner/cook and a nurse.
Just as unique as its background is the cafe's name. It came as a birthday gift to Abernathy. "I was staying up not sleeping at night because I wanted to find the perfect name for the cafe. I wanted the name to have a life of its own. After a friend gave me a pie bird as a gift, I decided to go with that as a name," Abernathy said.
Abernathy explains that pie birds are small, hollow ceramic funnels that sit in the center of a pie and act as vents so it does not boil over. She said that pie birds have been around for a long time. "They started making them a long time ago in Europe but not as birds. The bird design came along in this country in the 1920s, I guess as a cute way to decorate the pie while letting in air," Abernathy said. Bakers at the cafe use pie birds to vent the pies and Abernathy displays them in the dining areas, and occasionally sells them.
"I wanted it to be a place of learning and nurturing. For the customers, nurturing them with good food and for the crew a place to really learn something before they have to move on and grow," Abernathy said.
Since its opening, Pie Bird Cafe has generally employed family members and several high school students. "They become my kids. I just want them to learn something working here, to know it's just not a job," says Abernathy.
According to Abernathy, the customers also nurture her and the cafe. "They have all become family. They'll do anything for us. They take care of me in spite of myself," said. She said when the parking lot needed to be filled in with gravel a group of customers brought tractors and gravel and proceeded to resurface the lot free of charge. Abernathy said another regular customer has even done plumbing work on the cafe, again at no charge.
Abernathy said the biggest seller is the coconut creme pie. "We can hardly keep enough coconut creme pie in the case, people love it so much."
Besides baked goods, the cafe also offers a breakfast and lunch menu. For breakfast, eggs made to order, biscuits and gravy are some of the local favorites. For lunch, hamburgers, pork burgers and salads are popular items.
Pie Bird Cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 6 to 11 a.m. Sundays.