PT_MtVInteriorOne would certainly expect to find a restaurant with the name Bonnie Cafe in the little Jefferson County village of Bonnie, just east of Rend Lake in southern Illinois. That makes sense, and there is, in fact, a Bonnie Cafe there — but it’s not the only one on the map. There is also a Bonnie Cafe up the road in Mount Vernon. And yet another is located in Centralia. The towns of West Frankfort and Nashville have Bonnie Cafes, too.

Indeed, there is a whole family of Bonnie Cafes, which also is appropriate, given that the enterprise is a family-run and family-focused endeavor operated by three generations of the owners’ family.

“We’re just a little family business — me, my brothers, mom, dad, grandma — and we’ve built our way up with good home-cooked food and good service, where we treat our customers like they are family to us,” says Brittany O’Dell, who runs the restaurants along with her parents and siblings. “We just want to make sure everyone feels special when they come in our door; everyone is family to us.”


Officially, there are five Bonnie Cafes in the area. O’Dell’s parents, Brian and Melissa Hubbard, opened the flagship restaurant on Illinois Route 37 in Bonnie more than 10 years ago. A second location in Centralia opened in 2017, and Mount Vernon was added to the list in 2019. This location is currently found in the Mount Vernon Airport. The family has also franchised the restaurant to locations in West Frankfort and Nashville.

Adding to the bounty of Bonnies are two more franchised restaurants in the Lake of the Ozarks area of Missouri. “We’ve built a reputation we are proud of,” O’Dell says. “When people want to join us with [their own] restaurant, we’re more than happy to offer them a hand.”

While each of the locations has slightly different offerings, O’Dell says the approach is the same at all of the restaurants, that being great service and a full menu of “traditional American fare.” Breakfast is one of their special features — in addition to the wide range of choices that can be ordered any time of day, some of the locations offer an “all-you-can-eat” breakfast, including eggs, pancakes and French toast, several different proteins, and, of course, biscuits. Plus, in Mount Vernon, a weekend breakfast buffet is available offering, among other things, a made-to-order omelet bar and pastries.

O’Dell says students from nearby Rend Lake College are big fans of the abundant breakfast options, particularly after class and athletic practices. “It’s especially popular with the students,” she says.

Chicken Dinner
Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots and a roll

Lunch and dinner menus include the usual cafe classics like fried chicken, burgers and meatloaf, but visitors will also find some of the unexpected: steaks, pizza, all-you-can-eat crab legs and a seafood boil, for example. Each of the locations has regular specials and a discounted senior menu for lunch as well.

However, while the food is definitely a draw, the roots of the family’s focus at all the Bonnie Cafe establishments are relationships — with each other, employees and their patrons.

“Our customers are family,” O’Dell says. “I want to know what’s going on with Aunt Sheila. Is she getting better? Can I send over some chicken and dumplings to help? That’s what we’re about. It’s all just good food, good people, just regular family stuff.”

Editor’s note: Les O’Dell, writer of this article, and Brittany O’Dell of Bonnie Cafe are not related.

Let’s EAT!

PT_IL-MapBonnie Cafe

  • 675 S. Illinois Highway 37, Bonnie
  • 100 Aviation Drive, Mount Vernon
  • 15 W. Frankfort Plaza, West Frankfort
  • 824 N. Mill St., Nashville
  • 816 S. Poplar St., Centralia

Mon-Sat: 6 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sun: 6 a.m.-3 p.m.