January 25, 2015

Dugger's Cafe has been open now officially all of about two weeks (I think, though a Dugger clued me into the space at the tail end of December), in the old Noodle Zoo space (RIP) next to Dundee Theater. Technically now it's the old Zephyr Lily Cafe space, but my point is, the interior is greatly unchanged, even from the NZ days. Same paint on the walls, same ceiling, lighting fixtures and even perhaps the floor.

It probably goes without saying that the location is a bit odd, with no street view from either Dodge or Capitol Ave, you really need to be looking for it as a destination, even once you come upon the front door.


There was something going on - or not - with the ventilation this morning, as the restaurant was actually warm and humid inside with condensation on the windows and door. But that's just me and my weird HVAC observations. There was also an 8-year old banging his silverware together over and over while his parents did nothing... the overall atmosphere reminded me more of a diner than a brunch-style cafe. But sometimes it's nice to keep it casual, eh?

According to the OWH article...
The owners, Jeanette Laitner, her son, Randy Dugger, and Dugger’s wife, Rhonda, have a long history in Omaha restaurants.
Jeanette and her former husband, Jim Dugger, opened Duggers Coffee Shop in 1965 at 84th and Center Streets. After 10 years, they moved the shop to 80th and Center, where they stayed for another 10 years before selling the business.

Randy Dugger, who graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, worked as a chef for 30 years with Marriott Hotels. In Omaha, he opened Farmhouse Cafe and worked there for eight years. Most recently, he worked with Patricia Catering in Bellevue.
The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch all day starting at 6am Monday-Friday and 6:30 am Saturday-Sunday. Closing time is 3pm every day. Their Facebook page is facebook.com/duggerscafe.

Now, what about the food?

Perusing the menu only one thing really jumped out at me... the Belgian Waffle. This prompted some serious research after the fact (and a whole separate blog post about Belgian Waffles), when I sat down to write this review. But the short version is that what showed up was not what we were hoping for. It an American Belgian waffle.

Soft, round, and served with one pad of warmed butter. Looking at it now makes me sad after writing about those other waffles.

American Belgian Waffle
The homemade 'maple' syrup was a bit confusing to me also, since it didn't appear to have any maple flavor. But this is comparing to what I'm used to at home (100% pure maple syrup). What showed up in the syrup dispenser reminded me more of corn syrup with a lot of caramel color, a la Aunt Jemima.

Bill had the 'Chris' Butcher Shop Omelette', with bacon, sausage, ham and jack cheese.

Chris' Butcher Shop Omelette
I went for the Breakfast Croissant, with scrambled eggs, diced ham, bacon, cheese all 'nestled' in a croissant.

Croissant Sandwich

Raspberry Muffin
The sandwich was okay, all the flavors were there but the whole thing was compressed a bit and pretty greasy. Flavor was very rich, and I only ate half. The fruit was probably the star of my plate, actually, with freakishly fresh strawberries taking center stage.

A raspberry muffin also made an appearance. It was slightly smaller than I anticipated, since they were touted as homemade I just assumed... that's it above on a salad plate. But don't let the size deceive you, as it was small but definitely mightily tasty. Sweet, with a crunchy top and a nice pop of raspberry. (Looks like they maybe found an experienced baker to crank these babies out.)

One of the reviews on Yelp / Urbanspoon cites poor waitstaff. That wasn't our experience at all, luckily. We were greeted immediately upon entering, and seated quickly. Service was friendly and prompt. There was a brief moment of muffin-memory-lapse, but it didn't affect the speedy pace of our meal.

Paying was a little confusing, as we weren't instructed to pay at the counter and just figured that out for ourselves in time. Then, the gentleman working the counter had to go get our server so we could pay her specifically. A procedure that seemed strange to me as I haven't seen it before. Maybe we were supposed to pay at the table after all?

Duggers Cafe on Urbanspoon
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