I rarely go out to eat at a restaurant and when I do it’s always with friends. Going alone to check out Dad’s Cafe was a test of courage for me. I was so nervous. I didn’t know what to order, but the gentleman behind the counter started asking me what I like to eat.
He seemed like he wanted to help me out. Within a few answers, I got set up ordering two bacon cheddar waffles, a side of scrambled eggs and black tea with honey and lemon. Once I was seated and had time to collect my thoughts, I was glad I went there.
Dad’s Cafe is located on the corner of Warren Avenue and 17th Street. Owner Robert Bowen said he wanted a restaurant where everyone is welcome. Because Bowen is a father, he wanted to create a child-friendly environment, and even named the restaurant after that fact.
He said he wanted to open a place that was truly open to everyone. His restaurant was meant to be relaxed and easy going. Dad’s Cafe is a 100 percent gluten-free establishment. He said the restaurant also does not have or use peanuts, soy, nut flours or shellfish.
“Because of cross-contamination, you either go all out or you don’t do it all,” Bowen said.
The decision was made to give people with allergies the chance to order anything on the menu with peace of mind.
The menu consists of a variety of items: breakfast sandwiches, tamales, yogurt parfaits, waffles, salads and sandwiches are all available before dinner. The dinner menu is available at 4 p.m. and consists of meatloaf, pot roast, game hen, pork loin, salmon, fish tacos, vegan veggie pasta and regular pasta. There’s also a daily soup and on Friday’s they serve chili. Bowen said they also serve baked goods that change daily. He said that if there is an order for a particular baked good, they’ll make it and then sell whatever extras they make.
Bowen said all the food in the restaurant, except the home-style chips, is made from scratch. It was critical that he worked without processed food for people on diets and with eating disorders that prevented them from eating particular foods. He said there’s also no microwave, no deep fryer, and there’s hardly a use for the walk-in freezer.
The restaurant caters to people who are in a hurry, giving the option to take their food on the go or even call ahead and pick it up. Bowen said they also cater, but they don’t have a catering menu, so instead they work with the customer’s budget and what they’d like to eat. He does this as to not limit the clientele of the restaurant, allowing the customer to get just about anything.
Bowen said he has worked with traditional Indian food, rustic Italian food and is always willing to learn. If Bowen doesn’t know how to make something, he has an “always say yes mentality” and will learn how.
The inside of the restaurant is unique. There are objects from the owner’s family, such as a scale from his grandmother, a Sony stereo from his grandfather and two knives on the wall behind the counter from his great-grandmother. Bowen said the open sign hanging on the side of the building, a painting with the caption “steamed vegetables” painted on it and a sign with the restaurant’s name on it were all made by his father. Even the pan rack hanging above the counter was made by his father.
On Friday’s, the restaurant hosts a local music group, Tonal Depravities, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Bowen said every month the restaurant donates 60 percent of the tips they make to local Cheyenne charities. He said that these tips don’t take away from the employees’ money, as he pays everyone above minimum wage. He chooses local charities specifically because he wants to make a difference in the local community.
Dad’s Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.