It was once a piece of Jacksonville history hidden in years of undergrowth. A sturdy home made of East Texas pine is now a spot for locals and tourists to meet, shop, and get a home cooked meal.
Larissa House now has not only the honor of being the oldest home in Jacksonville, the Larissa House restaurant has one of the cleanest kitchens in East Texas.
Owner Kathleen Stanfill: "You eat with your eyes first. It has to look pretty before it makes you want to try it."
The home is beautiful. Parts were built in 1853. Ten years ago, it was almost an eyesore, but Kathleen had a dream.
"My mother in law and I put down the earnest money and then we called my husband and told him. Because you can imagine what a house like this looked like," she says.
Husband Eric agrees: "It had a lot of undergrowth and I saw it had potential, and I guess I had to believe in it.
"Reporter: You had no choice?
"Eric: No choice!"
Ten years customers have had the choice to come to Larissa House, and they haven't stopped showing up. The food is home made with care and that care is in the kitchen as well.
Kathleen: "I like to tell people you shouldn't eat in a restaurant that won't allow you in their kitchen. I mean, that's really the bottom line."
The Stanfills have hired what seems to be the perfect staff of folks who care as much as they do about cleanliness.
"I walked in the other night, and they had two orders working, and I couldn't figure out what's going on but they had moved the refrigerator and they were cleaning underneath it. What more could you ask for than that?"
A long history of perfect scores on inspection earns them the Blue Ribbon.
Irene Woodson has worked for the Stanfills for four years.
"It's something you don't even think about. Keep your hands clean, keep the tables clean, don't cross contaminate anything like that. And it's real funny because once you've worked here for a little while, and you go into other places, you notice how much cleaner we really are."
Larissa House will celebrate ten years this Labor Day, and they say it's a labor of love in a home full of history. That never grows old.
"When you care as much as we do and as much as our staff does, it's not hard. It's not hard. You have to care... It just has to matter to you."
Larissa House is open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. There's also an antiques emporium upstairs and you can also pick up a selection of flavored teas served at the restaurants.