Nov. 13, 2005 Donkey Diner is the place to go for breakfast in Coral Bay. And did we mention that it's also the place to get a pizza, but Wednesdays and Fridays only.
That's right. Donkey Diner wears two hats. It's a combination that works for Coral Bay residents and owners Doug Weaver, 43, and Clare Bole, 30.
Partners in life as well as in business, the two bought Donkey Diner in June.
"We were going to go sailing with the idea of getting a little bar somewhere, but I felt I wasn't ready to leave St. John," Bole said, as she spun pizza dough into rounds.
Born in England, she taught at St. John School on Gifft Hill. Weaver decided to take a break from his career as a wine salesman in Virginia by sailing south. He landed on St. John and took up bartending a couple of days a week at Shipwreck Landing Restaurant.
Although neither planned to own a breakfast and pizza restaurant, it just seemed right when the previous owners wanted to sell.
"Before we knew it, we were the new owners," Bole said.
The two made a few changes, including the use of fresh ingredients and a healthier way of cooking things like home fries. Bole said they're cooked in the over with olive oil rather than friend in a pan with margarine.
The pizzas also get fresh toppings, including some unusual combinations that Weaver said are very popular.
"Did you ever have corn on your pizza?" he asked.
Yes, corn. And raisins, pine nuts and jalapeno peppers. Of course, folks with more pedestrian pizza tastes can get the usual green pepper, black olives, sausage, and pepperoni. People have eaten pizza with ham, pineapple, bacon, and slightly non-standard items for years, and customers can get those items plus quite a few others on their pizza.
While the pizza is good, the restaurant really shines at breakfast. Omelets come with a big choice of fillings including a tasty Greek version with spinach, tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, and feta cheese.
Breakfast purists will go for two eggs any style, but people with an adventurous side might opt for the tofu scrambled with the vegetable of the day, tomatoes, red onion, green pepper, cheese. It's served with two pancakes or home fries and toast.
Sandwich eaters can get everything from grilled cheese to egg to a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich.
Then there's pancakes (both plain and blueberry), plain French toast and a stuffed version filled with cream cheese and topped with a hot mango pineapple sauce.
Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. to noon Wednesday through Saturday, with Sunday hours running 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pizza comes by the slice throughout the afternoon on Wednesdays and Fridays, but whole pies are available from 4 to 8 p.m. on those days only.
Bole said they'd like to expand their hours, but it's hard to find help.
And Weaver has a couple of improvements planned. He plans to put up Web cams so people can see the namesake donkeys wander by, he's working on a Web site to sell Donkey Dinner merchandise online, and he's in the midst of installing Wi-Fi at Donkey Diner to use part of the space as a Internet Café.
"Ninety percent of it is under way," he said as he chopped mushrooms for the evening's pizzas.
Weaver is making improvements to the building that also houses Sputnik bar to make the front patio area more appealing. Right now, customers can sit inside or out back under a canopy.
Asked about the challenges, the two are hard pressed to come with any answers.
"Well, the humidity can affect the dough in a big way," Bole said, taking time to explain how the ball of dough gets into its round shape sized right for the pizza box.
For more information, call the Donkey Diner at 693-5240.
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