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Prescott Valley Tribune | Prescott Valley, Arizona

home : features : features October 6, 2015

1/2/2013 9:30:00 AM
New Prickly Pear Café is 'more café, less coffee'
Tom and Patsy Franko and their three sons, from left, Jacob, Jonathon and Joshua, along with Patsy’s sister, Renee Anderson, far right, take a quick break from serving customers at the new Prickly Pear Cafe in Prescott Valley.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz
Tom and Patsy Franko and their three sons, from left, Jacob, Jonathon and Joshua, along with Patsy’s sister, Renee Anderson, far right, take a quick break from serving customers at the new Prickly Pear Cafe in Prescott Valley.
Trib Photo/Cheryl Hartz

Cheryl Hartz
News Editor

It's in the same location, but don't mistake the newly opened Prickly Pear Café for the defunct Pony Espresso.

"We sold the espresso machine because we don't know coffee, we know food," Patsy Franko, café owner with husband, Tom, said.

That isn't to say they don't offer a great cup of coffee. They get fresh roasted beans from Prescott Coffee Roasters weekly. But food is their forte, and they offer homemade, traditional American dishes at reasonable prices.

"We studied the area, ate at every restaurant and noted their prices so we could be competitive," she said.

Patsy, who basically grew up in Prescott Valley and graduated from Bradshaw Mountain, moved back with Tom and their family this past April from Texas.

"We knew we wanted to retire here, we just bumped it up a couple of years," Patsy said.

In May, Patsy and her sister, Renee Anderson, ate at an empty Pony Espresso and jokingly told the staff to call her when it went out of business. She received a call in June, but said it wasn't the right deal at the right time.

Five weeks ago, the landlord phoned her and "made an offer I couldn't refuse," she said.

The Frankos made a few improvements and two weeks later, on Dec. 11, opened for business.

The exterior catches the eye, now that it's a light tan, rather than deep reddish brown. Prickly pear cactus plants are in the landscaping plan come spring. The rustic interior remains much the same, except they've added larger tables and freshened the décor with new artwork. The Prescott Valley Art Guild will be rotating pieces on a regular basis, Patsy said.

Patsy's father plans to paint murals on the inside of the board fence around the outdoor seating area, and they hope the town will allow murals on the outer fence, as well.

They want a pleasant setting, but again, food is the focus.

"The needs of Prescott Valley are good food and good service, and that's what we provide," Tom said.

They serve breakfast and lunch anytime, offering such filling fare as "the Mother Lode" breakfast burritos, and "Outlaw Omelet," and even "Chili and Eggs." Hot or cold sandwiches from Ruebens to clubs, include choice of jicama slaw, potato salad, cup of soup, green salad or Sun Chips.

They make chicken tortilla soup daily, and once a week will offer a meat-free soup, as per a request from a local yoga group.

"We won't add deep fryers (no French fries), but probably will add hamburgers someday," Tom said.

They also offer a veggie sandwich and can substitute gluten-free bread for any sandwich by request.

The best surprise for the family so far is how popular their cake balls - crumbled cake, mixed with frosting and rolled in chocolate - have become. Patsy said they try to have three varieties daily, such as white chocolate raspberry, mocha almond fudge, lemon, and German chocolate.

And of course, there's prickly pear lemonade to wash it all down.

Patsy and Renee hold down the fort during the week, while Tom continues his freelance consulting business as an independent analyst for refineries.

He said he hopes to devote full-time to the café once business takes off.

He and Patsy met when he managed a Denny's restaurant, and they later ran one together in Williams before they opened the Cowboy Kitchen there.

In 1997, they moved to Washington State, where Tom grew up, and he decreed "enough of food and totally changed careers," Patsy said.

"He said he'd never do it again," she said, adding with a grin, "but I'd see a building and say, 'Wouldn't that be a cute restaurant?'"

Their three teenaged sons, Jonathon, Jacob and Joshua, help out on weekends and are getting even more experience during the schools' holiday break.

"Family is really important, and we want to keep family time," Tom said of why they aren't open evenings.

They may offer special event dinners in the future, for example, high school prom.

In the meantime, they just hope to increase daily traffic.

"We've met a lot of really cool people and some have been in five or six times already," Patsy said. "Lockheed Martin people have been great."

The Café is available for private parties of 10 to 50 people, with the upper limit incorporating the outdoor patio when weather allows.

"It's got good wiring for music," Tom said.

Prickly Pear Café is at 3101 N. Robert Rd. in Prescott Valley. Don't be fooled by the restaurant's location - the lot behind the building on Florentine offers plenty of parking.

Hours are 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday. Phone is 772-4004.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, January 21, 2013
Article comment by: Kristen Carlson

I have been there more than once and I love the staff! :) ( before the place got called prickly pear cafe it was Pony Espresso Cafe. I used to work there. I want to work at prickly pear cafe! :) the food is amazing!

Posted: Saturday, January 19, 2013
Article comment by: Kim DeRonde

My breakfast favorite is The Mother Lode. It s a large burrito filled with scrambled eggs, potatoes,corn meal bacon, beans and cheese.
Lunch, its the veggie sandwich and potato salad or the chicken salad sandwich with jicama slaw, YUMMY! The staff is very friendly and look out for Renee promoting the perfect size-three bite cake balls. Mocha Almond, Lemon, German Chocolate, Red Velvet, Birthday Cake, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Orange, Peppermint, new creations being planned daily. Get six for $3.98+tax. Perfect gift for someone special! They also do take out, call ahead to order.

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