Franks: Where It’s All in the Family
By Antoinette May Herndon
In San Francisco, Sacramento or even Stockton one wouldn’t think twice about the opening of a new coffee shop. But in Mokelumne Hill it was a big deal. Frank’s Café was and remains the only coffee shop in town. More than that, with its highway 26 location, halfway between Jackson and San Andreas, Frank’s has become a Foothills institution in just five years.
Frank’s success secret isn’t about prices or even excellent food. It’s about people and service. It’s about noticing customers and wanting to please them. I sit down at Frank’s and barely get my coat and scarf off before a tall glass of ice tea magically appears at my place. Some people are odd, they like ice tea even in the middle of winter. The wait staff at Frank’s recognized and catered to such weirdness almost from my second visit. You can imagine how welcome I feel, but so do all the customers.
Frank and Angie Giourousis, the coffee shop owners, are a striking couple who exude presence. Helping them in the family business are their children
and grandchildren. The nine Giourousises work seamlessly together cooking, serving, and pleasing. All have large dark eyes and smiling lips. They seem to shine and sparkle. Frank is a great big guy and kind of shy, but he shines and sparkles too. Maybe that’s what makes the place so special.
If Mok Hill can be said to have power breakfasts, this is where they happen. Not only are deals done inside Frank’s green leather booths but everything else. Frank’s is the town kitchen where people come to gossip, plan, organize, see, be seen and especially to eat.
Even if Frank’s wasn’t the only cafe for miles around, it would still be the best. The biscuits and gravy are fresh every day. All food is cooked to order with nothing frozen or pre-cooked. Everything is homemade, TLC evident in every bite.
The menu is surprisingly varied—imagine choosing between 23 omelettes. They’re all delicious, but I like the Greek one best. This tasty dish, loaded with feta, onion, bell pepper, tomato and ham, is priced at $7.25—the menu’s high ticket item. Prices are very reasonable at Frank’s. Consider the country special (one biscuit with
gravy, two strips of bacon or two link sausages, two eggs and home fries) for $6.25.
Special cakes are also perennial patron pleasers. Choose between bacon or sausage with two pancakes and two eggs for $5.95. Personally, I like the more exotic offerings like chorizo and eggs for $6.65. Frank’s special is a winner too. the savoury dish a scramble of ground beef, mushrooms, onions, spinach and eggs, served with home fries and toast for $7.95.
Breakfast is served all day at Frank’s but there’s also an extensive lunch menu. Select from a variety of pastas ranging from $6.45 to $7.45 or enjoy chicken fried steak with gravy for $7.15. All are served with soup or salad and a pudding dessert. Each day there’s also a surprise special, but then everything’s special at Frank’s.
VITALS: 8085 Highway 26, at Highway 49, Mokelumne Hill. (209) 286-1448. 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday. No reservations. Cash only.
Pictures: Frank’s kitchen is his castle.
Frank’s Greek omelette
Ntina left, and Angie Giourousis serving breakfast