By Cathy Wharton
For Hometown News
Prominently located on the southwest corner of Granada Boulevard and Nova Road in Ormond Beach is Rivergate Shopping Center -- an L-shaped design of various shops, stores and restaurants. Nestled in between them is the Rivergate Coffee Shoppe, which has hand-painted murals covering the windows that draw a lot of attention.
But don't let the colorful facade fool you. Inside is a casual dining atmosphere that keeps a lot of locals coming back. My first impression when I entered the restaurant was it was far more spacious than I had imagined. The interior is quaint and cozy and has a relaxed feel to it -- sort of like sitting around the proverbial "kitchen table." Even though it's busy, there's no rush to get you out.
The seating arrangement at the coffee shop provides comfortable booths and four-seat tables. There is also a counter area that overlooks the kitchen, allowing customers either sit-down service or take-out orders. The decor is decidedly '50s -- a "Hollywood theme," including caricatures of Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and James Dean. Recently, however, the famous trio was toned down a bit, leaving enough room for John Wayne, Betty Boop and vintage Corvettes. Though fun to look at, the nostalgic theme is not over-done, which is just how the owner likes it.
Owner, Cathy Sankowski, and her late husband, Mike, took over the operation of the coffee shop in 1998. They bought the business from Don Trizano, who opened the restaurant in 1996. "We had been looking for something 'free-standing'-- away from the beachside," Ms. Sankowski said. Mr. Trizano's daughter, Michelle Pool, still works for the establishment. Both she and Mary Theel are long-time servers at the coffee shop -- "forever employees" -- that says a lot about a place that's been in operation for 16 years.
"They (Michelle and Mary) came with the restaurant," Ms. Sankowski said. "They're like family."
The restaurant is unique in other ways, too. First, it grinds its own coffee beans fresh daily, serving up some of the best coffee around. Second, it offers breakfast or lunch any time of day, between 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. If a customer wants fried chicken and mashed potatoes before the sun comes up, they've got it. If it's poached eggs with sausage at noon, just say the word.
For me, it was a 10:30 a.m. three-egg vegetarian omelet with mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, onions and cheddar cheese, served with a cup of hot grits and a huge homemade biscuit. My selection was absolutely delicious and kept me well sated for the rest of the day.
While enjoying my food and a couple of coffee refills, I noticed the steady flow of customers coming in. A lot of them were regulars, some being called by their first name, while others (myself included), would soon become familiar with the good food and quick, friendly service the restaurant is known for.
At Rivergate, the price is right. No menu item is over $8.95, and most are in the $5-6 range. With such affordable prices and the food so deliciously prepared, Rivergate Coffee Shoppe is a must visit.
Rivergate Coffee Shoppe is at 128 S. Nova Road in Ormond Beach. Hours are 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday - Friday; 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Phone: (386) 672-9577.