Meet Your Merchant: Joanie’s Creekside Cafe & Catering says breakfast has been secret to success |

Meet Your Merchant: Joanie’s Creekside Cafe & Catering says breakfast has been secret to success

Sandi Hoover

Joanie’s Creekside Cafe & Catering will celebrate five years in business this month, and its owners are eager not only to share their success, but to lure in new customers to try their hearty breakfasts.

“Our biggest area of opportunity is our breakfasts. We serve good portions and home-style cooking,” said owner Lou Lane. “Some of our guests say they hope it remains a secret because they like to come in, have breakfast, read the paper and relax.”

But in honor of their fifth anniversary, Lou and his wife, Joan Marie, will offer a month-long special for May. Anyone who buys a breakfast can order another for half-price.

“Just say, ‘Happy Anniversary,'” Lou Lane said.

The secret to all their good food, he brags, is his wife’s excellent cooking.

Joan Marie is modest about the claim, saying that it has been a process.

“We started out simple and have gradually added things. I tend to want to put more healthy items in, but I want to emphasize that we try and make as much homemade food as we can – we make homemade soups every day and we make homemade salad dressings, and lots more,” she said.

A big hit at the restaurant is Joan Marie’s homemade falafel – a Mideastern snack made by deep-frying ground garbanzo beans and other ingredients.

“Sometimes we even go through total falafel days. I think people really like those,” she said.

“I also make my own veggie burgers, and we sell lots of salads and lots of wraps,” she said.

Joan Marie has been busy lately with Creekside trying to build up its breakfast clientele.

“Besides our regular breakfast fare, I make my own corned beef hash, and our omelets – especially the California omelet – are some of the most popular on our breakfast menu,” she said, “but we also make big breakfast wraps and a nice eggs Benedict.”

She said she also is proud of her homemade desserts, which seem to be gaining a reputation on their own.

“The people before us said, ‘Don’t bother making desserts,’ but I now have to have my homemade cakes or pies on hand. Once people know you have these desserts, they want to come back for more,” she said.

Despite the tasty menu items, Lou Lane admits it hasn’t been an easy road.

“When we bought five years ago, this end of town appeared to be growing, then there was the big crash. We’ve struggled through it the whole time,” Lou said, “and through a lot of faith, a lot of hard work, good employees and good food, we’ve managed to keep our doors open, and the last couple of weeks have been really encouraging,” he said.

“We get a lot of support from the chamber (of commerce), and a lot of what we offer, people seem to really like,” he said.

He said he is particularly grateful to have good employees.

“An issue the prior owners had was staffing, because it took so long for customers to get served during the lunch rush, so we saw this as a priority and I’m probably carrying more labor than I should, according to the experts who say we have too many,” Lou said.

“But we are blessed with our employees. I’m sure in some businesses they say their employees are their worst nightmare, but ours are delightful, and it shows in the comments we get from our guests,” he said.

Carson City Chamber of Commerce Director Ronni Hannaman spoke highly of Creekside’s owners.

“His is an interesting story about opening in the good times, weathering the bad times and gaining customers through sheer determination and possibly the best food around,” Hannaman said.

“Joanie does most of the cooking, and it is wonderful. She is well-known for her desserts – and makes possibly the best macaroons in the West,” Hannaman said.