To be perfectly honest with you, I never really thought that Shannon’s Casual Cafe would make it. I had breakfast there recently, and it wasn’t until I was leaving and turned around to leave a tip on the table that I noticed I had been sitting beneath a framed copy of the Chow Hound column I wrote when the place first opened.
The publication date in the Orlando Sentinel was January 8, 1993.
So I guess they’ve lasted longer than I expected.
I can’t explain it. My review was positive enough back then. And I had to reread it to recall that Shannon’s was a pioneer in rolling out what we now call fast casual or quick serve. That’s where you order at the counter and then take a seat to wait for someone to bring you your food. Back then, owner Jim Shannon, who previously had owned some Big Boy restaurants, described the restaurant as ''one-half service and one-half fast food.’’
On this visit I ordered a sausage and cheese omelet and was rendered nearly speechless when the young woman behind the counter told me they were out of sausage. How is it possible for a breakfast cafe to be out of sausage? I settled for ham and cheese.
The coffee service is still the same. If you’re dining in, you can grab one of the mismatched mugs from a tray and help yourself to the joe.
The omelet was modest and just a bit on the rubbery side. The bits of not sausage were sprinkled on top of the folded eggs and were inside, as well. The omelet was accompanied by some unremarkable totted taters and toast.
The decor is still as eclectic as ever and includes the requisite table of old guys that any diner worth its salt has in one corner.
I don’t expect this place to last more than another 23 years.
By the way, that same column I wrote back in 1993 also included a few paragraphs about a place in Altamonte Springs called Mr. Cocky’s, a chicken restaurant. I have zero recollection of it, but I can tell you that it was located in the spot now occupied by Jimmy Hula’s, which, when the original opened on Aloma Avenue in Winter Park in 2011, I secretly thought, “This place will never last.” Jimmy Hula’s is about to open its ninth location. So what do I know?
Shannon’s Casual Cafe is at 4401 S. Orange Ave., Orlando. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. There is no website. The phone number is 407-855-9995.