Kathleen Phillips hustles around the Donut Chef in Van Alstyne, Texas, on a pair of bad knees, pouring coffee, taking orders, frying eggs and manning the register, much like she’s done for the last 38 years. The hole-in-the-wall joint in this small town north of Dallas has been in the family since it opened in 1974. She greets customers by name with her syrupy Texas drawl and pulls three syllables out of the word “yeah.” When patrons get testy she fires back with her favorite one-liner: “Kiss my grits.”

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