People in Keene have a multitude of choices on how to start the day, indeed an impressive array in a community so small. Six in all. On a per capita basis, excluding hotels, Lake Placid-North Elba would have to have 54 places for breakfast to equal the number of offerings in Keene. How do those people of Keene choose you might think? Do they ever eat breakfast at home? What’s special about each? With such thoughts and more in mind I set out on a rainy Saturday morning to find out.
My first stop was the tiniest, A Wake Up Call, located in the hamlet of Keene. It is all about coffee, no matter what condition you stumble in, you will leave wide awake. “I really wanted a good cup of coffee,” said co-owner Andrea Hoffman. “I was sick of having Green Mountain Coffee and the thought of having to drive to Starbucks in Placid to get espresso-type drinks. So we researched everything from the equipment to where we could get the kind if beans we wanted (Dean’s organic Fair Trade), and found this little spot, which we really like.”
“Our customer’s favorite is the dark roast, Ring of Fire, beans grown in volcanic soil,” said partner Josh Josten. “It tastes great and it is good motivator. The second cup of coffee seems to go a long way into the day.”
“I start my day with Foxy Brown,” said customer Chris Gifford. “I love the coffee here and that everyone is friendly. I just have to have a good cup of coffee to start my day.”
Across the street and down at the junction I popped a bite of one of the most sensational pies I have tasted at the ADK Cafe, their lemon shaker pie made from just three ingredients, lemons, sugar and eggs. Wow. “It’s a delicious kitchen,” said chef Larry Hans. “We make pretty much everything here from scratch. All out meat is grass fed, free range or eco-farmed. We do our best to use local ingredients.”
“We want our food to be nourishing and flavorful,” said his partner Fiona Burns. “People rave about our corned beef hash and eggs, biscuits and gravy with local sausage, thyme biscotti, and muffins, especially the carrot and walnut with local maple syrup and whole wheat flour. It is so satisfying to meet the people who come back. It is like being at your house and having a dinner party, you want to serve your best.”
“I think the coffee is great and I love the pastries,” said customer Pam Gothner about Cedar Run, located across the bridge. “Do I have to talk just about breakfast? Their prepared salads are wonderful.”
Cedar Run is owned and operated by Kristy Deyo, a business she has had for the past 10 years, albeit in two other locations before opening here in April. “I have always loved to cook,” she said. “I love new ideas and new recipes - tweak what I see and try it out on an audience. The muffins, sour cream coffee cakes and scones are most popular in the morning. Some people get pretty upset if I run out. We don’t cook eggs to order any more, but we have quiche for people who want eggs. We have 40 different bakeable meals – people just love that – and starting the week after Memorial Day we should be selling wine by the bottle. We will be suggesting wines that people can pair with our dinners so people can leave here with a complete meal.”
“When we open at 6 a.m., the coffee club pours in,” said Kathy Kyea the morning manager at Stewarts. “They all hang out together. Sometimes people call in to check where they are.”
“Stewarts has everything,” said Sue Doyle. “Prepared egg sandwiches, the muffins are good, I like the coffee and have you tried their new peach and banana and black raspberry smoothies? They are terrific. I do a lot of our grocery shopping here.”
“I started coming to Stewarts for business,” said Joe Pete Wilson. “When I had the farm I’d say, let’s meet at Stewarts and discuss it over coffee. It has become an opportunity to connect with a lot of people. Everybody comes through here. It creates lots of opportunities for chance encounters, like meeting you. ”
“I like the people at the Noonmark, they are very nice,” said Michael Currin. “I have known them for a long, long time. I usually have bacon, eggs and toast for breakfast. I get my paper here every day. They are known for the pies.”
“I have been working here 20, 25 years,” said Rosie Winchell. “What makes the Noonmark special is the people and it is nice to work with family. Everything is homemade. Lola (Porter, owner) is such a rock. She always covers your back whether it is for work or not. Eggs and omelets are our most popular breakfast item with pancakes a close second, especially now that she has blueberry and gluten free. We serve only local maple syrup and we use organic whole wheat. Our biggest seller are the pies, they made the Noonmark famous. We ship basically everywhere. In the summer we sell over 200 a day. In the spring anything with rhubarb is most popular, in the summer berry pies and in the fall apple. But it is the customers that make working here still fun. They always keep us on our toes. When someone pulls into the lot, we pretty much know what they want.”
“I come to Greenpoint because they have the best coffee, the best muffins and because their fillings are very inventive, the have so many great little surprises,” said Carol Collin. “They are always mixing in this or that. The food is fabulous.”
“We make everything fresh from scratch,” said owner and baker Luke Ayers. “One of our specialties is home made English muffins with cheddar cheese and ham, and you can have a fried fresh egg on it. There always is the muffins and steel cut oatmeal. I like making delicious food and interacting with people on a daily basis and here everything comes together. We have a fun low-key environment, read a magazine and connect with friends.
“I like that you get to meet different people every day,” said his partner Leslie Ayers, “and that we provide people a place where they can run into each other, have access to good coffee and good muffins.”
So many choices, all good, come try them.