It’s almost been one year since Rob Keohane first opened Café on The Avenue. It was Rob’s desire to bring to Hertel a family style restaurant that would serve breakfast all day long, and lunch offerings as well. In order to do this, Rob needed to pull in a cook who knew the ropes and would not let him down. He was lucky enough to find Sara Jeannont who formerly cooked at Bertha’s Diner.
I asked Rob how he came to open this relatively new diner-style restaurant, and he readily admitted it was because he purchased the building. The former occupants had been restaurants, so he wanted to stick with the same formula. The first think he did was tear the place apart and rebuild. Today the interior looks better than ever, with all new equipment and even a gas burning fireplace that heats the entire place when it gets cold out. Rob also built out the basement, which is where all of the food is prepared. “I figured that I would build out a nice looking restaurant, and put an ad out for a cook,” Rob told me. “Sara replied, and today we’re serving up a great menu. I also found a pastry chef that is making fresh donuts. We open at 7am so that we can catch people on their way to work. They can grab donuts for the office, a breakfast sandwich, and coffee. We also sell our own bags of coffee – whole bean or ground.”
After taking a look at the menu, I found that there were plenty of offerings that would warrant return trips. But first I wanted to try out the Joe’s Angus burger with house made chips. I also ordered the Sahlen’s dogs (x2) because I found it so unusual to find hotdogs on a menu… why is that in Buffalo? My buddy ordered a chicken strip melt, which cam highly recommended. It also came highly stacked with chicken and melted cheese. Sometimes the basic menu items can be the most appealing when you’re up for something that is simple and delicious – like burgers, fries, a turkey club, taco salad, or a Buffalo style grilled chicken sandwich.
Café on The Avenue is the type of place that is great for families too. Between their hot cocoa in the winter, and chicken fingers, onion rings, oatmeal, fresh fruit cup, grits,… and the donuts, this is kind of a kid’s paradise. Plus, all of the breakfast items, including a build your own omelette. The serving sizes are also generous, and the prices are reasonable. For example, The Lumberjack – 2 large eggs (any style), 2 sliced of bacon, 2 sausage links, a slice of ham and a choice of pancakes or French Toast… all for $10!
Rob and Sara recently introduced chicken and waffles to the menu. “I went to a place in Philadelphia that served chicken and donuts,” said Rob. “I thought about doing that here… that’s where the idea for the house made donuts came from. But in the end, we decided to stick with chicken and waffles, and sell the donuts on the side.”
The next time you’re in the mood for a pumpkin butter cream donut, a cup of fresh brewed coffee, and breakfast… for lunch, then there’s only one place on Hertel that can accommodate. “I felt that there were not enough all day breakfast/lunch places in Buffalo, and that’s how this was created,” Rob told me. “Eventually we will do dinners as well, but for now we’re concentrating on a menu that we’re very happy with.”