SARATOGA SPRINGS — Michele Morris describes the last 19 years of owning the Saratoga Springs restaurant Scallions as "fabulously manic."
"I thought I'd only do it for three years, and here I am 19 years later," she said. "It's so fast-paced that it's gone by so quickly."
Last week, Morris decided to put the Lake Avenue restaurant up for sale.
"I'd like to have some more freedom," she said. "The older I get, the more I'd like to see if I'm capable of doing something else before it's too late."
Morris started working at Scallions at age 17 during her freshman year at Skidmore College.
"The drinking age back then was 19, and all my friends were always going out," she said. "I was sick of spending time by myself and my mom told me to get a job."
Morris was hired at Scallions, which was located on Broadway for 23 years before moving to its current location in 2007.
"There were a lot of high school students who worked there," she said. "It was more my speed."
After graduating from college, Morris relocated to Colorado, but kept in touch with the owners of Scallions.
"They were looking to make a change and they called me to ask if I wanted to buy it," she said. "It seemed like it was something to do in order to move back here, and I always loved Scallions."
Morris said with her at the helm, the restaurant became "a mom-and-pop shop without the pop."
"I've been a single mom doing this for a really long time," she said. "It's been like my third child, but my two sons might say it's been my first one."
On any given day at Scallions, Morris likely can be found cooking in the kitchen.
"I involve myself in all aspects of it on a daily basis," she said. "I love the control of it and I want things to be consistent."
Former owner Jim Morris, who is not related to Michele Morris, said he and his wife decided to sell the business to her because they knew she would carry on the tradition.
"Michele has been wonderful," he said. "It shows you that even though there's a different owner, a business can still be successful."
Jim Morris said when Michele Morris announced she was selling the business, he said he understood.
"The restaurant has been extremely successful, so hopefully a new owner will come along and have as much success as we have over the years," he said. "It's a mainstay in the area, and I hope it continues on. But progress is progress, so if it changes, that would be OK, too."
Michele Morris said she's willing to wait for the right person to come along and purchase Scallions.
"It's always your hope that you'll find someone who loves it for what it is, but someone could come in and turn it into something else; that's their prerogative," she said. "But why take a profitable business and alter it?
"I think Scallions has a lot more to give to its customers."
When it comes to customers, Morris said they always come first.
"I tell my staff that you don't have to be technically proficient, but you must be friendly," she said. "I think that's what's gotten us where we are — being genuine and authentic."
Morris said many of the longtime customers became family to her.
"We've lost a lot of longtime customers who were part of our lives," she said while wiping away tears. "There are so many memories I'll have and I cherish being part of other people's lives."
Whenever Morris does sell Scallions, she said she'll walk away proud of the business and what she was able to accomplish.
"I've gotten so much support from the community and more importantly from my staff," she said. "Without them, I wouldn't have made it this long.
"It's time to try something new."