When you first walk in the door at Katy’s Cafe in Ellicottville, your senses come alive. Smiling faces behind the counter offer you your first (or maybe, like me, third) cup of coffee. The distinct sizzle of bacon can be heard from the kitchen, while your eyes are drawn to the unique look of the tables with tree limbs acting as legs. Vivid paintings and photographs by local artists adorn the walls. But the best part of the morning (or afternoon) … the first bite.
The genesis of Katy’s traces its roots back almost three years, when Katy Arena was presented with the opportunity to open her own restaurant. Seeing it as a chance to do something she loved while adding some diversity to the Ellicottville food scene, Arena rolled the dice.
“I was living in Allegany, going to school at JCC,” she told me. “My friend Bethany called and said ‘Do you want to work in Ellicottville?” … Little did she know, she’d start that very night. “She didn’t tell me it was Fall Festival! (laughs) But so it began. I worked at The Depot and Madigan’s for almost 10 years before I bought this place.”
As with any small business, the risk oft times outweighs the reward. In a market such as Ellicottville, small businesses need to adapt to the chaos of winter and (generally, but not so much in recent years) slowdown of summer.
“I thought about it while I was finishing up my marketing degree,” she said. “I asked myself, ‘Is this really what I want to do?’ and it definitely is. I love it so much.”
Offering a vastly unique menu, Katy is constantly in the kitchen whipping up new concoctions. Her daily specials couple healthy with flair, so it makes breakfast and lunch an easy choice. The regular menu boasts things such as ‘The Good Morning Bagel’ (writer’s note: personal favorite): an Everything bagel with herb cream cheese, bacon and freshly cut cucumbers.
If you’re familiar with the area, you’ll most definitely remember Eddy’s Restaurant, a local favorite that shut its doors a couple of years back. With an excellent location on Route 219 in Great Valley, it’s surprising that no one has attempted to reopen. That is, until now.
“John (Northrup) threw around the idea of doing the Eddy’s project last year,” Katy said. “We went and looked at the building, and I was instantly scared because it needed some work. I talked to my husband Vic, John and his partner, and some other family and friends about it. We spent countless hours going back and forth, weighing the pros and cons. Can we handle two restaurants? After much deliberation, we decided that yes, we can!”
Starting the project last August, Katy slowly began to realize how much potential is there. But that wouldn’t come without some elbow grease and creative thinking.
“What we ultimately decided on is that the place just needed a facelift, a little love,” she said. “It’s not like it was totally dilapidated. But with any place that’s been vacant for a couple of years, it needed to be cleaned up.”
The new restaurant, which will be called “Katy’s Fly In,” will offer breakfast, lunch and dinner with a totally different menu. Things like: scratch sausage & gravy biscuits, American-style hand-pounded burgers, different types of fries, meatloaf, fried chicken. But the biggest advantage of the new place? It’s quite simple. Parking.
“Parking is huge! I have tons of friends from school and the area that want to come eat here (Ellicottville) but a lot of times it’s so frustrating because you can’t find a place to park. So having such a big lot at the new restaurant will be so advantageous.”
Katy’s Fly In will offer a full range of options while also possessing a beer & wine license. She hopes to have the doors open by mid- to late-June (if all goes according to plan). For more information, head to Katy’s Cafe on Facebook, KatysCafe.com or simply stop in Katy’s Ellicottville location and say hello!
“I’m really looking forward to opening!” she said. “I love my people here, and can’t wait to meet and grow relationships with new customers. We’re currently taking applications - we want to build the best staff possible. It’s a whole new adventure!”