A Fine Sign
I spotted this fantastic vintage sign from a distance, while exploring downtown Dubuque.
I love a good sign and I love a retro cafe.
I love a good building, too!
This 3-story charmer was sitting right on the corner, just west of the Mississippi River.
I cut across a parking lot and headed closer, hoping I wouldn't discover a vacant building.
I had been wandering for about 20 minutes after checking into our downtown hotel. I knew nothing about Dubuque. I wasn't sure if this was actually a safe area. But I had to get closer.
Dottie's Lace Curtains
How could a cafe named Dottie's, be anything but homey and sweet?
I got up nice and close and peered in the window. It was closed, but I saw tables and chairs.
Breakfast at 5:30?
The word Welcome was written right on the door, along with the hours of service! Don and I could walk over for breakfast the next day, at 5:30 am!
And what about those lace curtains? How could we stay in Dubuque one night and not visit Dottie's?
Breakfast at 8:30
We gave the staff 3 hours to wake up and be ready for us.
Almost every table was taken, but the dining counter was open.
We lucked out and got a corner table, right next to the wispy lace curtains and a radiator.
I had a good view of the early morning traffic. There wasn't much. Don had the best view. He could keep an eye on all the locals, chatting with one another.
Full Plate and Funny Face
Don captured an awkward shot of me with my food. However this image gives a glimpse of the happenings behind me.
I could hear one couple congratulate another couple about their 50th anniversary. I heard Peggy (our very pleasant server) greet a couple by name. They made a beeline for the oddly placed table, behind the counter. Peggy asked, "Can I get you the usual?"
I must share this menu to show off the prices. My Biscuits and Gravy is spotlighted, with too much glare. But my massive serving was only $5.95.
Peggy was busy, but awfully cheery every time she refilled our coffees. I asked about the Dottie behind the cafe's name. She said Dottie was her mother in law. Sadly, Dottie is no longer with us. She passed in 2003.
All in the Family
I believe Peggy said she'd worked at the cafe since 1990, which is about the time Dottie and her husband Vernon opened the place. They had 11 kids, so it's no surprise there were family members available to pitch in over the years.
Don ordered the daily special. Eggs, bacon, potatoes and toast, for $5.79! His breakfast and my biscuits and gravy were cooked by Peggy's daughter Stacy. I believe Dottie had 32 grandchildren when she died 2 decades ago. So I wonder how many cousins Stacy has now?
Good-Bye to Dottie's
Don and I apologized to Peggy for not cleaning our plates. "So good, but just too much!" As we headed out we had the fun of recognizing some guests from our hotel. We stopped and conversed near their table. What a hoot to sort of pretend we were locals, chatting it up with friends!
We headed out and I paused to study the old sign one more time. What's the story of the sign? "Travelers Cafe" was the name of the biz, that came before Dottie's opened, in 1990. Hmmm? Could Dottie have replaced Travelers, with her name? What came before the other cafe? The internet tells me the structure was built in 1891. There must be many stories about this building. Why didn't I at least ask what was above the cafe?
So many questions and few answers on the internet. We'll have to go back and ask more!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.