Hook them with coffee, and then they’ll come back for food. Since she opened in 1997, that’s always been her plan.
This year, when seasonal residents who crave Leigh Ann Card’s brews and bites found the original location at the corner of U.S. 1 and 75th Street vacant, they thought she’d hung up her hat.
“It only takes about 24 hours for them to figure out that we’re not closed and find us in our new location here on Key Colony Beach,” said Card, who comes from a family of restaurateurs and cookbook authors.
Located right on Sadowski Causeway, Card said the move has really been a vast improvement over the previous location. Kitchen, prep and storage space has nearly quadrupled, but if you loved the quaint and comfortable feel of her original café, you’ll still feel right at home in the new space.
Her quality, yet affordable bottles of wine are still stocked on the same rustic wooden shelves. Her pastry case is still full of scrumptiously tempting goodies and desserts. And of course, her whole bean coffee, imported from the oldest coffee roaster in the country since 1940 – Gillie’s Coffee Company in Brooklyn, New York – in a variety of flavors is still available for purchase.
But the biggest difference is the space. There are also a few new, exciting touches.
In a very savvy move, Leigh Ann decided to begin selling ice cream. She’s cornered the market on inviting couples for succulent desserts and a bottle of wine after dinner, so why not have something for the kiddos to enjoy, too?
Though she sold jams and jellies she prepared with items fresh from her garden in her other location, there’s now more space to display the homage to her mother, Cecilia Fayle.
Cecilia was a staple at Leigh Ann’s in their first location.
“She helped bake bread for me every day,” Card recounted. “She’d stand at the open counter and talk to customers while kneading her bread. They’d wait on it to come out of the oven, so we started calling them ‘Cheddar Bread Junkies’!”
Many of the antiques that adorn the walls and shelves of the eatery are reminders of her mother. Many came down from Card’s grandparents’ restaurant in Belmar, New Jersey, where they owned a restaurant, an ice cream shop and a pizza shop all in the same strip mall.
“I grew up in restaurants,” she confirmed. “My mother used to write food articles for the New York Times for many years.”
In fact, part of her fresh ambitions for her own restaurant include compiling her mother’s photos and recipes and completing them with a collection of customers’ recollections of her mother.
All the recipes for her breakfast specials, signature sandwiches, savory soups and delectable desserts are from Cecilia’s collection.
“We only serve homemade food that’s guaranteed fresh,” she promised. “Everything, we stand behind it. If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it.”
This month, she’s kicking off the annual seasonal wine club she organizes, along with partner and wine expert Pierre Beulieu, that continues through April. For a $250 membership fee, wine club members can receive two bottles of wine per month for five months along with a strategically paired wedge of artisan cheese. Member fees also include free admission to the monthly wine tasting and dinner that includes a five-course meal with menus specifically designed to complement the select bottles of wine.
“We once had a dinner with South African wines, so I researched South African dishes and crafted a menu,” she explained.
Card and her daughter, Christina, who helps carry on her grandmother’s traditions, have also opted to offer small gourmet items appropriate for a long weekend on “The Gem of the Florida Keys.”
“People can come down for the weekend and never have to leave the island!” she said excitedly of her deli meats, cheeses, crackers, spreads, olives and pickled vegetables among other things easily tucked into one of her picnic baskets also for sale.
Of course, the half-pound bags of whole bean coffee – which the staff will gladly grind – also fit perfectly into said baskets as well.
They always come back for the coffee.
Leigh Ann’s Coffee House is now located at 301 Sadowski Causeway on Key Colony Beach (formerly the Donarchi Deli). Open Monday through Saturday from 7 am to 8 pm and 8 am to 8 pm on Sunday; call ahead to (305) 743-2001 or (305) 743-6676 for rush orders. Visit http://www.leighannscoffeehouse.com.
Joined by Chamber of Commerce officials and Key Colony Beach commissioners, Leigh Ann Card, her staff and family celebrated the official grand opening of their new location on Sadowski Causeway.
Always fresh and made to order, Leigh Ann’s stands behind each dish they serve. If you don’t like it, you don’t pay for it!
Pierre Beuilieu (left) shared some of his select wines with loyal customers during the café’s grand opening last Friday.
Even Santa showed for the occasion to welcome Leigh Ann Card and her daughter, Christina, to their new home in the site of the former Donarchi Deli on Key Colony Beach.