diner

Floyd Bradley of Niki’s Family Restaurant greets longtime friends Nancy Buzzard, Mary Cody and Sally King, who have been eating breakfast and lunch at his restaurant for 20 years.

Nancy, Mary and Sally don’t even have to order at Niki’s Family Restaurant — three long-time waitresses there have served the mostly-retired women breakfast and lunch nearly daily for more than two decades.

“If they don’t know what they want, we do. We have their drinks ready before they sit,” said Debbie Lund, a 26-year employee of the Suntree Plaza eatery. “They’re just like family, hilarious and fantastic.”

Nancy Buzzard and her mother began dining there, and noticed Mary Cody, usually there at the same time, eating alone.

“I asked her to join us, and that started our group. We continued to eat together after my mother died,” Buzzard said.

Sally King joined the group 20-plus years ago.

“Table 10 is theirs, and we save it for them,” said Nikki Cashon, a 24-year server from Rockledge. She said about 80 to 85 percent of their customers are regulars, so most customers are greeted by name, like on the sitcom Cheers.

“They know our families too, because we bring them here when they visit,” King said.

“Our group gets larger and smaller. We get a bigger table in the other room when we need one. This restaurant is like home,” Buzzard said, displaying photos of various group get-togethers on her cell phone. “We get extra-large birthday cakes, eat a few pieces and leave the rest for the staff.”

The women also give workers gifts such as Christmas cacti, poinsettias and Easter lilies. Cody brings them chocolate.

Floyd Bradley, who opened the restaurant in April 1990, considers Buzzard, Cody and King his most loyal customers. “They were here for breakfast and they’ll be here at 12:25 for lunch,” he said.

King is widowed; Cody never married, but sometimes, Buzzard’s husband joins the women for lunch. “He likes to sleep in, so he misses breakfast,” Buzzard said.

King said the women talk about everything amicably and share daily concerns. “They’re great friends. You couldn’t ask for better. We come. We eat. We talk,” King explained between bites.