ANDERSON — It was a quiet, sunbathed afternoon when Avanelle Hattery walked into Becky’s Happy Mule Café with her niece, Sherry Minton, and Sherry’s husband, Terry.
Nothing seemed special inside the cozy cafe as a handful of other patrons enjoyed their food.
But for Hattery, the afternoon lunch celebrated a unique occasion, her 101st birthday. Despite any attempts she may have had to keep the afternoon low-key, a few others took notice.
“I think it's very fun,” said Becky Donohue, owner of Becky’s Happy Mule. “She looks amazing and beautiful.”
Everyone present noted that Hattery walked into the restaurant and looked many years younger than 101.
“What’s most interesting is when you are sitting and talking to her,” Terry Minton said. “She has a sparkle in her eye that most older people don’t have.”
Donahue was prepared for the occasion with a candle shaped like a number 1 that she placed on a piece of pie and served to Hattery at the end of her meal.
Despite turning 101, the 1 also holds significance for Hattery. Her great-great-nephew, Eli, is turning 1 this year, and Hattery jokingly says she is starting over with him at age 1, even though she has 100 years on the youngster.
The pie and candle were not the only surprises. Hattery’s meal ended up being free thanks to a nearby patron who overheard what was going on and paid for the trio’s meals before he left.
Hattery was born on July 13, 1912.
She operated six restaurants in Madison County with her husband, Halford Hattery, who died in 1991. Halford manned the grill while Avanelle tackled the baking duties, and everything the two cooked was made from scratch.
“Top Hat was my favorite (restaurant),” Hattery said. “There was only one other cafeteria at the time with a buffet. That is something I have seen grow over the years.”