Posted by: Kath Usitalo | June 24, 2011

Road Food Report: Java Joe’s Cafe

Brooklyn O'Shea Chambers (her dad is a Dodgers fan) delivers my buckwheat crepe

Yes, there is a Java Joe. At least in the a.m. each day.

“He’s Joe in the morning, Jose in the evening,” says Brooklyn, my waitress, when I ask about the owner of the cozy and colorful Java Joe’s Cafe, located just a short jaunt north of the Mackinac Bridge in the Upper Peninsula gateway city of St. Ignace.

Part of a mural on one of the cafe's exterior walls

We met Joe years ago on a breakfast stop when the family feasted on omelets, pancakes and a crepe. He’s a friendly guy who likes to work the room to chat with customers, and that’s part of the reason he’s been successful since he and his wife Sandy opened the joint in 1999.

On this trip I stopped for an early dinner, and Joe was down the street prepping Mexican food at his other diner, Jose’s Cantina.

Java Joe’s lengthy menu features pizza, sandwiches (Paige would drool over the 7 grilled cheese combos), burgers, fish and other dinners. But it was my first meal of the day (okay, I had a granola bar with my coffee that morning) and I was craving an omelet or crepe—breakfast is served anytime.

I settled on the buckwheat crepe stuffed with turkey, avocado, bacon, pico de gallo and cheese, with ranch dressing on top ($9.89).

Huge and delish.

The casual spot is decorated with photos, teapots for sale, and bold colors

Since I was running on coffee fumes I opted not to add more caffeine to the system but, as you’d expect at a joint called Java Joe’s, the brew is good.

The brightly painted dining rooms (and the restroom) are lined with shelves of teapots and cookie jars for sale; Brooklyn said they sell about 2,000 a year.

Another decorative touch: hundreds of photos of customers with one of the signature desserts, either the homemade strawberry shortcake or homemade brownie, or a combination of the two, topped with ice cream, whipped cream, and other goodies and served in monstrous glass bowls.

Doubt that I’ll ever tackle one of those sweet treats, but I would like to try the smoked whitefish pizza. I didn’t notice that option until I got back to Blue Skies and read the souvenir menu.

Next time.

Visitor Info Clicks: St. Ignace

Pure Michigan

A bright spot on a foggy day in St. Ignace



  1. I loved it when we went to Java Joe’s. The best pancakes ever!

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