A friendly, small-town atmosphere has helped make the Prickly Pear Café a popular spot for locals in Prescott Valley, said owner Patsy Franko. Their fresh-baked cake balls may also have something to do with it.
The cake balls have quickly become a signature treat for the restaurant. Franko, who grew up in Prescott Valley, opened the café in December of last year.
"The cake balls have become outrageously popular. We do about 70 dozen a week now. They started as an after-thought to do a little something sweet at lunch time," Franko said. "We make them fresh every day and the flavors change every day. We do not post our flavors. Right now we've tried about 52 different flavors. We sell them individually, by the dozen and by the platter."
The café offers a rustic, cozy atmosphere inside. In good weather, the patio is also widely used. Artwork and other decorations play up the prickly pear name and the small town charm offered at the family-run restaurant. Franko's husband, Tom, and sister, Renee, as well as Franko's children, can be found working at the restaurant most days.
Formerly the Pony Espresso, the location no longer serves specialty coffees, but plenty of other items, including the cake balls.
"We offer basic home cooking in a casual atmosphere. We're just real simple," Franko said. "It's a really friendly place. It's small, inexpensive and homey."
The name Prickly Pear Café, she added, came as her and her husband tried to think of a fun name that represented the area.
"It happened to be the prickly pear season just ended. We thought it kind of fit with Prescott Valley," Franko said.
Customer favorites include sausage gravy, which includes their biscuits and gravy and gravy over hash browns. The Roadrunner sandwich is also a favorite for patrons, Franko said. The Roadrunner boasts grilled sourdough, turkey, green chilis, tomatoes and pepper jack cheese. Other popular items include homemade soups and salads.
"We keep our menu small, but we cover all the bases," Franko said.
Franko, who has worked in the restaurant business in the past, said she loved the location and jumped at the chance to take over the restaurant when it was offered to her last November.
Cake balls, made daily at the café, and dipped in white and milk chocolate, can be purchased for 99 cents each or three for $2.59. Nothing on the menu is over $7.99. Prices range from 99-cent hash browns to the $7.99 Desert Sliders, two beef sliders sandwiches made with lettuce, tomato and secret sauce. Other menu items include Sunshine Chicken Salad Sandwich, which offers a blend of chicken, dried cranberries and celery in a creamy sauce, with "a taste" of citrus, on a croissant; the PV Club, offering three slices of sourdough bread stacked with turkey breast, ham, cornmeal bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato; the Corn Muffin Scramble, made from scrambled eggs with green chilis piled on a moist corn muffin topped with pepper jack cheese; the Mother Lode breakfast burrito, with scrambled eggs, potatoes, bacon, chili and cheese. Traditional breakfast and lunch choices include pancakes, biscuits and gravy, nachos, an assortment of salads, veggie sandwiches and more.