BRUNSWICK, Maine — Jen Burton dishes up delectable corned-beef hash, pancakes, eggs and bacon at Jen’s Place nearly every morning.
Her dad mixes up the eatery’s signature corned-beef hash. Her mom delivers steaming pancakes and eggs, and her sister, Cori, buzzes from table to table, charming customers with a rare combination of wit and — occasionally — commands for songs or calisthenics.
Meanwhile, the “drama” in their daily world continues to turn, as Jen continues to recover from a brain tumor, one son heads off to college and the family checks in with longtime customers about their own lives.
“It’s choreographed, almost,” Burton, 40, said one day this week. “There always seems to be something going on in here. And where we all work together, we can share some of the good and the bad.”
It’s not a sitcom, but it could be a reality show soon, and a Hollywood producer thinks it could be a hit.
Larissa Michieli of Little Lamb Productions — whose credits include episodes of “E True Hollywood Story,” the “Wild On!” series and, most recently, “Pageant Wives” on TLC — flew to Maine from California last week at the urging of her friend, Robi Hutchinson of Brunswick, to scope out Jen’s Place as a possible reality TV show site.
Michieli told the Bangor Daily News that she’s optimistic the networks will be as charmed by the family as she is.
After just a day or two at the restaurant, Michieli spent the day shooting footage.
“That day we lost hot water because we had a new dishwasher and he drained it dry,” Burton said. “And I got burnt! They want the good and the bad.”
Jen’s Place attracts locals, students and parents from Bowdoin College, and tourists who hear about the spot on Facebook (“Waay fun! I love this place”) or dining guide Yelp (“This place is a hoot! It is family-run and the staff friendly and funny! Don’t be thin skinned and enjoy the experience …”
Cori Miller, 39, leads the floor show most days in the dining room, circling tables and taking orders as she monitors for cellphone use. Those caught scanning their phones might be ordered to do calisthenics or commanded to sing a song — as several Bowdoin College students were on a recent weekend.
“If they’re busy, I get up and go pour coffee,” said Paula Bisson, a customer and friend of Burton’s. “One Sunday their waitress didn’t come in and I sent my family home and I stayed and waited tables. That’s what friends do — they help each other.”
Michieli plans to follow the family’s real lives, which should provide more than enough excitement for a show.
She’s “in the very initial stages” of shopping the casting reel to networks and production companies, and she hopes the networks “will bite.”
Her previous shows took 18 months to three years to make it to TV, but Michieli said she’s optimistic.
The family won’t get rich if the series is picked up — Michieli wouldn’t say how much they might make — but Burton hopes it would bring the restaurant some exposure and more success.
Burton — who said she hasn’t drawn a paycheck since the restaurant opened — said she’ll be happy to simply not have to worry about juggling bills.
“For once it would be nice to be financially stable,” she said. “I just want it to be easier.”