A hearty breakfast might just be the ultimate comfort food.
For three years in a row, Redmond Reporter readers have chosen the Village Square Cafe, 16150 NE 85th St., as Redmond’s “Best Breakfast” destination.
Village Square Cafe was the original restaurant in the Cafes Inc. family of restaurants owned by husband and wife Michal and JoAnn Scott. Village Square opened in 1986, in a spot formerly known as Emmilou’s Cafe.
When the Scotts and their infant daughter first moved here from Sunnyside, Wash. they found few old-fashioned breakfast joints.
“There was only Denny’s or IHOP where everything was pre-made, plastic, commercial,” said Michal.
He loved that the quaint cafe in Redmond had a counter as its focal point, like a throwback to the 1940s. When the restaurant changed hands and became the Village Square Cafe, the Scotts retained two of the original employees from Emmilou’s, a dishwasher named Darrel Dewitt who still works for them and a cook named Dan Kudlo who is now their corporate chef. Meanwhile, their daughter Cari Mitchell is now their company’s operations manager.
A 1940s theme also prevails at the Scotts’ other restaurants within Cafes Inc.: Issaquah Cafe, Woodinville Cafe, Crystal Creek Cafe in Bothell, Saw Mill Cafe in Mill Creek and Mukilteo’s Speedway Cafe.
Michal said the decor is “mostly stuff we picked up from antique stores in Snohomish and Woodinville.”
They also incorporated photos and ads from old Saturday Evening Post and LIFE magazines found in a great-grandmother’s closet. Murals on the walls in several of the restaurants are local scenes from the 1940s.
“We try to keep the local flavor, participate in Chamber and high school events,” said Michal.
“There aren’t many of us here — local, homestyle restaurants,” he commented. “We want people to know us as ‘your local hangout,’ like the place from the TV show ‘Cheers,’ where everybody knows your name.”
Regular patrons at the Village Square Cafe include Redmond Mayor John Marchione and the Redmond Police and Fire chiefs, as well as many professional athletes and their families.
“We try to keep their visits on the Q.T.,” said Michal, “so they can enjoy their meals with their families and not be interrupted. … We have met and kept a lot of friends here. We’ve had more than one child who was raised at that counter and now works for us.”
His own children grew up in the neighborhood, too.
Along with a laid-back atmosphere, said Michal, “we specialize in breakfast with most items from scratch. We also roast our own turkeys and beef and we have our own baker. We’re known for our Eggs Benedict with our own sauce made from scratch. Our Chicken Fried Steak is very popular. People drive from Seattle for our waffles, fruited or plain. Our crepes and pumpkin pancakes have become famous.”
Health-conscious customers can order dishes made with egg whites or Egg Beaters, salads or half-portions of entrees.
“We can basically make anybody happy, from a toddler to a grandmother,” Michal stated.
If the Travel Channel’s “Man v. Food” came to Village Square Cafe, what eating challenge would Michal give to host Adam Richman?
Michal, an admitted “Man v. Food” fan, chuckled and referred to one of the cafe’s breakfast specialities called B.O.B. It includes two fluffy buttermilk biscuits topped with two AA large eggs and two sausage patties smothered in country sausage gravy and Tillamook cheddar cheese.
For Richman, however, “I’d make him eat an extraordinarily large B.O.B.,” Michal explained.
Producers of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” have contacted the Scotts about Village Square Cafe but decided not to feature the cafe only because “they like to do an individual store where the owner is in the same place every day,” said Michal. “They were interested but because we own more than one restaurant, they thought of us as ‘a chain.'”
Still, he’s eagerly waiting for a chance to put Village Square Cafe — and downtown Redmond — on the map for America’s foodies, he said.
Until then, “we’ll continue to serve great food and try to make people happy,” Michal noted.
Village Square Cafe serves breakfast and lunch from 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (425) 885-7287 or visit www.cafesinc.com for locations and hours at other Cafes Inc. restaurants.