By Russ McCaskey

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – A lot of restaurants, diners and cafes serve chicken fried steak, but one local cafe has taken it to a whole new level. To find out the story behind ‘Chicken Fried Steak Day,’ we head to Oak Cliff and a Texas original — Norma’s Cafe.

At 10:00 a.m. on a weekday morning, Norma’s Cafe in Oak Cliff is already buzzing as if it were the evening rush. “We serve the kind of food people want to eat on a regular basis. It’s not pretentious,” said Ed Murph, owner of Norma’s Cafe.

Murph grew up eating at Norma’s Cafe and then, almost 30 years ago, got an opportunity to own a piece of the pie. Literally. “When I had the opportunity to buy the cafe and continue it on, I jumped at it,” Murph said.

Murph describes Norma’s Cafe as home cooking with a Texas flair. Entrees come with three vegetables. And he has done a lot to promote one of its mainstays — chicken fried steak. Five years ago, he helped created ‘Chicken Fried Steak Day.’ “Turns out, the State Capitol got behind it. The people here support it and it’s a fun thing,” Murph said.

Was it a hard sell to the lawmakers? “No, it was an easy sell,” Murph said.

Norma’s Cafe not only serves customers, they serve the community. All through November, Norma’s Cafe has a postcard campaign where customers can write thank you notes to members of the military serving overseas. “We have had some feedback from some of the veterans, and it’s much appreciated,” Murph said. “That’s something I am very proud of that we got behind.”

And then there is Thanksgiving. For 27 years, Norma’s Cafe has served Thanksgiving dinner to anyone in need of a good, hot meal. “It just kind of gives you that warm feeling that you really just did something for somebody else. The staff likes it and I love it,” Murph said.

It’s that commitment to the community that is part of the recipe for longevity and success. That, and Texas-sized pie. Their slogan — Life is short. Eat dessert first. That’s something you can sink your teeth into.

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