Correction: original name of Keke's at Millenia was Florida Waffle House, not Florida Pancake House.
I think it’s fair to judge a place that calls itself a “breakfast cafe” to judge it on its coffee. Coffee, after all, is the universal breakfast drink. And if you don’t have a good cup of coffee you’d better not get into the breakfast business.
So what do we make of a place like Keke’s Breakfast Cafe that has good coffee (not fantastic, but good) but serves it in a really, really horrible cup.
“Oh, come on, Joseph,” you’re thinking. “How can you get worked up over the cup the coffee is served in?”
Because it’s square instead of round, that’s why. Well, not perfectly square -- the sides are flat but the “corners” have a bit of roundness. Why do people feel the need to be overly clever or to “reinvent the wheel?” Whoever designed this mug would have reinvented the wheel as an ovoid. And what’s wrong with a coffee mug with a flat lip? The human mouth when poised to take a sip from a vessel is more round than flat. Even worse, the inside of the cup is round, so it funnels the liquid to the center, where pursed lips should be waiting. Drinking from this coffee cup requires one to flatten one’s mouth. It’s a mug only a clarinet player could appreciate.
But that, I’m happy to say, is my one and only complaint with Keke’s, which just opened a second location on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park. I enjoyed everything else about my breakfast, from the sincerely pleasant staff and simple decor to the delicious food.
I stopped by the new location for an early Sunday breakfast. I thought arriving at 9 would get me in before the apres church crowds, but Keke’s was already doing a brisk business and there was a brief wait for a table. Very brief; I was soon shown to a small table and greeted by my server. After getting my coffee and some water, served, it should be noted, in a tall, perfectly round glass, I ordered a sausage and cheese omelet with home fries. And because I knew that the first Keke’s started life as the Florida Pancake House, I wanted to see how this Keke’s flapjacks were, so I asked if I could order just one.
I’m glad I got only one because it was huge. The buttermilk cake filled the plate (which was square, but that didn’t bother me) and was nearly three-quarters of an inch thick. (Yes, I measured it.) It had a fluffy texture and a golden hue, and while it might have been a bit hotter so as to melt the butter -- they’re also called hotcakes, after all -- it was delicious.
So was the omelet, which was dotted with bits of sliced sausage and had gooey cheddar cheese folded inside. The home fries were good, too, and had the perfect bit of greasiness, but the wheat toast went uneaten -- the pancake was bread enough.
My server was an affable young man who calmly looked after all his tables, taking the time to engage his guests and make them feel welcome. Management was present in the dining room and stepped in occasionally to help servers and also greet guests.
Keke’s Winter Park is in the former Bakely’s, and the owners have remodeled the place, most notably getting rid of the scary yellow color scheme. The dining room is bright with plenty of windows, both to the outside and to the kitchen. The slatelike floor is kempt, and granite tabletops give the place a sparkle.
As I mentioned, the original Keke’s, near the Mall at Millenia, was first Florida Pancake House. But the owners discovered that someone else had registered that name. Perhaps wanting to avoid those cheery little cease-and-desist letters that lawyers love to send, the owners decided to rename it Keke’s. Who’s Keke? There is no Keke -- it’s a made up name, at least as far as this place is concerned.
It’s fine to be inventive with your restaurant’s name. The coffee cup? Not so much. I do recommend that you visit Keke’s, but do what I plan to do the next time I go: take your own mug.
Keke’s is at 345 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast and lunch daily. The phone number is 407-629-1400. Here’s a link to the Web site.
The original Keke’s is at 4192 Conroy Road, Orlando. Phone is 407-226-1400.