Comfort food for the family

Katie’s Kids Café
220 S. Main Street
Mon-Fri 9a.m.-7p.m.

Ducking out of a December snow shower into Katie’s Kids Café is like wrapping up in a warm blanket in front of the fireplace.  The smell of baking bread and pies, along with the friendly chatter of the owners (and numerous relatives) take the diner back to a time when restaurants were true gathering spots and calories were consumed. . . not counted.
I’ll admit, when the Café opened a little more than a year ago, I found the name confusing.  Was it a Café for kids?  (I envisioned pint-sized roasts and potatoes), or was it a Café run by kids (tiny wait staff and cooks)?  In truth, the restaurant is run by Katie’s grown up kids, Pam Smith and Deb Curlis.  “Katie” is Katie Crozier, a well-known cook and proprietor of Katie’s Kitchen in Arlington from 1980-1996. 
”We wanted to re-create that hometown restaurant atmosphere that we both experienced growing up,” says Pam.  “Our location is perfect.  In fact, my dad’s barber shop was in the building right behind us.”
In addition to a breakfast buffet (9 a.m. – 11 a.m.), Katie’s Kids Café features daily lunch and dinner specials.  Deb bakes the pies (think about a slice of sugar cream, butterscotch, Heath, or pear) and Pam is the talent behind the “signature” cakes (chocolate mayonnaise with caramel icing, Ohio Buckeye, cinnamon apple, and raspberry).
A vegetarian, I lucked into macaroni and cheese day and received a large portion with gooey cheese and bread crumbs.  Sides included a slice of homemade bread and green beans.  My lunch companion ordered a grilled cheese and bowl of chili accompanied by a large dish of cranberry applesauce.  She wistfully asked if there was any hot chocolate and was handed a large cup piled high with marshmallows.  (Just try getting THAT at a corporate chain!)
Pam, also the head waitress, admits that kids don’t always know what to expect when nuggets and fries aren’t on the menu.  She is willing to dish up a child’s portion of any daily special, and also serves a grilled cheese basket.
“I just tell them I’ll bring them a surprise and boy do they like it,” laughs Pam.  “Lots of kids these days have never had home cooking.  They think Kraft from a box is REAL macaroni and cheese!”
We topped off our lunch with a slice of apple-cranberry pie, complete with lattice crust sprinkled with sugar.  Pam even split the portion for us, serving it on two plates. (No grousing about extra plates here).  The coffee was good and refilled several times.  A kitschy touch, all the cups bore the words, “Compliments of Mid-Ohio Chiropractic”. 
Our bill for two hearty lunches, complete with beverages and dessert was less than  $15.  Service was quick and friendly, but we never felt rushed. Katie’s Kids Cafe brought us in from the cold with a warm and comforting welcome.

Pam and Deb also prepare “Meal Baskets” for two or six (great gift for a new mom), cakes and pies baked to order, quiche, homemade salads by the pound, and pecan pastries ($2.50 each). Open Monday-Friday 9a.m. – 7p.m. Closed Saturday and Sunday.