WINDERMERE — The Dixie Cream Cafe is approaching its fifth anniversary in Windermere, and on top of that, the cafe received the 2015 Certificate of Excellence award from TripAdvisor.
TripAdvisor, a website pointing travelers to food, hotels and other travel accommodations, allows online users to review the restaurant, hotel or museum they are visiting.
In Windermere, TripAdvisor lists 19 restaurants, and as the winner of the Certificate of Excellence, Dixie Cream Cafe tops the list.
“We happened to have had an envelope come through the mail, a mail that I don’t ever check,” owner Stephanie Desaulniers said of the award. “And it had been sitting in there, so it was a big surprise.”
Desaulniers was aware of the reviews online but did not realize the cafe was going to get an award.
Dixie Cream Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch prepared from scratch, as well as coffee and baked goods, opened in December 2010. Desaulniers calls the food “Southern comfort with a twist.”
Desaulniers’ father, who was in the restaurant business, advised her never to open a restaurant.
But Desaulniers loved breakfast food and thought about opening a restaurant of her own for a long time. One day she made the decision and started looking for a place.
She wanted to open her cafe in Windermere, because she felt the town had a good mix of older charm without alienating area newcomers.
Then she found Dixie Cream Cafe’s location at 434 Main St., which was formerly a convenience store.
“When I saw this was available, I couldn’t believe my luck,” Desaulniers said.
She worked with the property owner, who wanted a small cafe of which the town would be proud. Art from local artists adorns the walls of the Dixie Cream Cafe. Anyone who is interested in having their art displayed on the walls can just ask Desaulniers, who usually says yes, provided that the art fits in with the cafe’s vibe, which Desaulniers describes as “happy” and “funky.”
Alongside her staff and loyal customers, Desaulniers said the people who come to the restaurant feel like family and make the experience worth every minute.
“It is so special to me that the five years we’ve been here have gone by so fast,” Desaulniers said.
Repeat visitors and store regulars show Windermere’s pride for Dixie Cream Cafe.
John Scolaro, an area Realtor, visits Dixie Cream Cafe at least once a week, because he likes to support local businesses.
“It’s hometown style with fresh ingredients,” Scolaro said.
He likes how the cafe roasts the turkey and thinks it sells the best chocolate chip cookies in town.
Dixie Cream Cafe sells merchandise such as mugs, T-shirts and creamers. As a Realtor, Scolaro gives merchandise as housewarming gifts to new community residents.
“This place is really a cool place for Windermere,” Melanie Bryan-Sponsler, a regular who visits the cafe twice a week, said. “(Desaulniers) really makes it feel like a place where people know your name. I’m proud of this place.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
When Dixie Cream Cafe owner Stephanie Desaulniers was a student at the University of Florida, she worked at The Dixie Cream Restaurant in Gainesville. She loved the restaurant, and her future husband, Brian, visited often.
Dixie Cream Cafe
ADDRESS: 434 Main St.
HOURS: 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays
Contact Jennifer Nesslar at [email protected].