116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The closure of Riley’s Cafe’s three Cedar Rapids locations was an opportunity for restaurateur Jade Luter to add breakfast to her small but rapidly growing restaurant portfolio — something both old and new to the owner of Daisy’s Garage.
Cruz’s Cafe, 568 Boyson Rd. NE, Suite 190, opened on Nov. 1 as Luter’s third restaurant, joining her next-door Kingston’s Steakhouse, which opened in August, and Daisy’s Garage on Edgewood Road NE, which she purchased in 2017.
“Since this is right down the street and I was considering doing breakfast at Kingston’s, it just made it a little bit easier to open up shop,” Luter said.
With a few tailored changes, Cruz’s brings the signature menu items and atmosphere of Riley’s with a few new additions and improvements.
What: Cruz’s Cafe
Where: 568 Boyson Rd. NE, Suite 190, Cedar Rapids
Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. every day
Phone: (319) 320-2424
Details: Open for dine-in, carryout at the counter or drive-thru
“When (Riley’s on First Avenue) had their fire, Daisy’s Garage opened our doors to them to serve breakfast, for their customers to still have a place to go for breakfast,” Luter said, “... and to keep those people employed and keep breakfast on that side of town.”
Richard Pankey, then-owner of Riley’s, also owned Daisy’s Garage when both were located on First Avenue.
Cruz’s is the first of the three Riley’s, closed in October, to reopen, and Luter has retained the Riley’s staff.
“It came back to people who had their hands in it from the beginning,” she said. “A lot of our staff has been here 10 to 13 years with the Riley’s group. Their servers are the faces that people have seen.”
Reduced to two pages, Riley’s menu has been more concisely redesigned for a less overwhelming feel. Cruz’s has kept many of the signature favorites from Riley’s, like Ship Wrecks and omelets, while adding new options like an eggs Benedict flight and vegan dishes including plant-based eggs and sausage.
In addition to the new dishes, Cruz’s brings turkey bacon and sausage to the table plus breakfast cocktails like mimosas and Bloody Marys.
Lunch options, also served all day, include a variety of appetizers, soups and salads, burgers, sandwiches, wraps and specialties like hot beef sandwiches and tenderloins.
As she expands into breakfast, Luter hopes to build a consistent brand while leaning on the staff who built a loyal following at Riley’s for years.
“Breakfast is a different creature,” she said. “Everyone who’s worked here has worked breakfast for many years.”
Luter’s new venture is named after her 13-year-old son, who may one day start his career in the industry at the fledgling cafe. Next door steakhouse Kingston’s was named after Luter’s son who died 12 years ago as an infant.
“I was going to do Kingston’s Cafe, but Kingston is such a bold word,” she said. “The cafe is kind of an eclectic hodgepodge, so we just did a play off (Cruz’s) name. This would be a great start to get into the business.”
As they continues to expand in rapid order, she hopes to take on the challenge of building a family of restaurants.
“I think that’s what keeps me going — the challenge.”
In the future, Cruz’s plans to offer outdoor patio seating. The former First Avenue Riley’s Cafe, sold to the owners of Mas Margaritas in Cedar Rapids, will reopen with a Mexican-influenced menu, according to former owner Richard Pankey. He said the Marion location also may reopen under new ownership.
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