Make us your home page
Instagram

Wake up: Orlando chain to open Keke's Breakfast Cafe in Tampa

A new breakfast spot opening in Tampa is out to prove that the first meal of the day isn't just the most important, it's the best.

Keke's Breakfast Cafe, a popular Orlando chain, is expanding into the Tampa Bay market with a new restaurant scheduled to open in mid to late September in Carrollwood. It's taking over the former CiCi's Pizza space in the shopping center with Bed Bath & Beyond and Fresh Market, at N Dale Mabry Highway and Fletcher Avenue.

Keke's joins a growing number of daytime cafes seeking a bigger slice of the $50 billion-a-year breakfast market. Although most people still eat breakfast at home, the morning meal remains one of the biggest opportunities for the restaurant industry.

Its growth stacks up to a lot of pancakes. Between 2007 and 2011, breakfast accounted for 60 percent of restaurant traffic growth, according to Technomic, a food industry consulting firm. This year, breakfast sales — at both sit-down and fast-food restaurants — are expected to grow 3.5 percent, slightly more than lunch or dinner sales.

Keke's has 10 restaurants clustered mainly around Orlando, where the chain was founded in 2006 by brothers Kevin and Keith Mahen, hence the name Keke's. Five others are in the works, including the one in Carrollwood as well as ones in Lakeland and Boynton Beach.

The chain was featured in the August issue of Technomics' ConcepTrac report about emerging restaurants as a rising "a.m. eatery," along with Broken Yolk Cafe, Snooze and Toast Cafe, a North Carolina chain seeking to open locations in the Tampa Bay area.

Keke's co-owner Kevin Mahen said the company sold its first franchise in 2010 and has been looking to expand outside the Orlando market.

"We've found that the more stores we have, the better the sales are for all the stores," Mahen said. "We don't feel like we've met our saturation point yet."

Run by franchisees Jordan and Ashley Swan, the 150-seat cafe will open from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily and serve breakfast all day. The menu will offer about 20 varieties of waffles and pancakes, sandwiches, burgers, salads and wraps, most priced at about $10.

While the menu is similar to other daytime restaurants such as First Watch and IHOP, Keke's atmosphere is more contemporary and upscale. Meals are served on square, china plates — not plastic — and the tabletops are granite. Food is prepared fresh to order. No alcohol is served.

"It's like your hometown diner grew up and went to the city," goes the cafe's mantra.

Customers on Yelp have given it high praise, calling the blueberry-stuffed French toast divine and the banana caramel pancakes worth every calorie. Just about the only complaint is that it can be tough to get a table right away, especially on weekends.

• • •

Many locals know the key to sweetening up even the most sour co-worker is a slice of something from Mike's Pies. Now the country knows it, too.

The key lime pie from Tampa-based Mike's Pies has been named Florida's top goodie to share at work by Bloomberg Businessweek, which compiled the state-by-state list.

Founded by Mike Martin more than 21 years ago, Mike's Pies are served in 40 states and five countries, and are sold in a few stores such as Fresh Market and Land & Sea Market. It has won a bunch of awards, including several for its famed key lime.

As school kids traipse back to school this week in their new clothes and backpacks, consider this: Total back-to-school and college spending was expected to hit $75 billion this year, according to the National Retail Federation. That's more than all the spending combined for Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, Easter and Halloween. Only Christmas beat it at $602 billion.

The average family will spend $670 on their children in grades K-12, up 5 percent from last year. That's a lot of pencils, paper, sneakers and book bags.

Contact Susan Thurston at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110. Follow @susan_thurston.

Wake up: Orlando chain to open Keke's Breakfast Cafe in Tampa 08/18/14 [Last modified: Monday, August 18, 2014 6:56pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Law firm's Russia ties prove nothing about Trump

    Business

    The statement

    "Law firm @POTUS used to show he has no ties to Russia was named Russia Law Firm of the Year for their extensive ties to Russia. Unreal."

    Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., stands during a media availability on Capitol Hill, Monday, June 20, 2016 in Washington. A divided Senate blocked rival election-year plans to curb guns on Monday, eight days after the horror of Orlando's mass shooting intensified pressure on lawmakers to act but knotted them in gridlock anyway — even over restricting firearms for terrorists. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
  2. Pasco county lawyer disbarred for taking woman's money

    Real Estate

    NEW PORT RICHEY — The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis.

    The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday disbarred Pasco County attorney and former congressional candidate Constantine Kalogianis. 
[2016 booking photo via Pasco County Sheriff's Office]
  3. Rick Scott signs package of tax breaks

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott signed a tax cut package Thursday that — while vastly scaled back from what he wanted — eliminates the so-called "tampon tax" and offers tax holidays for back-to-school shoppers and Floridians preparing for hurricane season.

    Florida Governor Rick Scott signed a tax cut package that will cost state coffers $91.6 million during the upcoming year. [Joe Raedle | Getty Images]
  4. FBI probes fraudster's alleged church scam following Tampa Bay Times report

    Real Estate

    PLANT CITY — Once again, the FBI is investigating felon fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao.

    The FBI is investigating convicted mortgage fraudster Victor Thomas Clavizzao on new allegations following a Tampa Bay Times report.
[TImes file photo]

  5. Tampa Bay is ground-zero for assignment of benefits cases over broken auto glass

    Banking

    When Rachel Thorpe tried to renew her auto insurance last year for her Toyta RAV4, she was stunned to see her monthly premium had nearly doubled to $600. The Sarasota driver was baffled since her only recent claim was over a broken windshield.

    Auto glass lawsuits filed by a third party (through what's known as assignment of benefits) are skyrocketing in Tampa Bay.
[Times file photo]