Staff Photo: Deanna Allen. Jack Brown's Cafe serves up a Chicago-style hot dawg deep-fried with a cup of turkey chili, front, a sampler plate with chicken, tuna and egg salad with crackers, right, and a bowl of chicken vegetable soup, left.
Jack Brown's Cafe
225 W. Crogan St., Lawrenceville
Open since: June
Location: Jack Brown's Cafe is just off the downtown Lawrenceville square in a renovated service station.
Hours: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with breakfast served until 10 a.m.
Owner: Monroe resident Mike Lee bought the restaurant known as the Lunch Box in June, renamed it Jack Brown's Cafe, renovated the building and rolled out a new menu. Jack Brown's is Lee's first restaurant venture with managing partner and chef Kimberly Gegenheimer, who previously worked for the owner of the Lunch Box.
Atmosphere: Jack Brown's Cafe has a retro look with black and white tables and chairs and a red tiled floor. The garage door separating the dining area from an outdoor, street-side patio still keeps the building looking like the service station it was originally. A long, curved counter divides the dining area from the kitchen but diners should order from their seats. Two- and four-person booths as well as regular table seating are provided.
Four flat-screen TVs hang on the walls inside Jack Brown's, but diners won't find them showing news broadcasts or sports events. According to the menu, "the news is always bad news and your team may be losing." And that just doesn't suit the fun, relaxed atmosphere of Jack Brown's.
One of the most prominent features of the decor inside the cafe is a large portrait of Jack Brown himself, Lee's 4-year-old Boston terrier bulldog, for which the cafe is named. The portrait was taken by local artist Bobby Sikes, who also created the paintings that adorn the walls.
- Menu: Customers will likely want to read through the menu to get to know Jack Brown and his tastes -- he doesn't care for salads but occasionally eats grass, and he prefers his BLT without lettuce and tomato. He has lended his name to a couple of the menu items, including the Jack Brown Club and the Jack Brown Burger.
The cafe offers an extensive menu of soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and more. The most popular items are the turkey chili and the chicken salad, whether served solo or on a croissant.
Breakfast items include plates and a la carte selections, from the popular sausage gravy and biscuits to the breakfast burrito made with sausage, egg, cheese and potatoes with a side of salsa.
The food served at Jack Brown's is made from scratch whenever possible with the freshest ingredients -- Gegenheimer shops for fresh vegetables and fruit every day.
"It's a little bit more work," she said, "but you're not going to get anything that's not fresh."
Customers might want to try a few of the more unique items on Jack Brown's menu, including deep-fried hot dawgs and a grilled PB&J, before sampling the most popular dessert, homemade red velvet cake cupcakes, which sell out almost every day.
- Things you might not know: Fans of Jack Brown can take home a coffee mug ($7.95) or a T-shirt ($14.95) featuring the handsome bulldog.