Ellie Ross always noted the quaint building at 1435 W. Grand Ave. in Grover Beach when she drove past.
Over the years, she watched tenants move in and out. Then last fall, she saw a “For Lease” sign on the small white building. With her four children mostly raised, she thought it was time to open her own cafe, Ellie’s Place.
The charming eatery debuted in December and has gradually attracted devoted patrons who enjoy the fresh-baked breads and cakes or just want a place to chat over a cappuccino. Ross can often be seen animatedly conversing with diners and giving hugs to regular customers.
Ellie’s Place is small—there is only space for two tiny tables indoors — but she’s compensated by creating an amiable patio with potted flowers, greenery and artwork.
The menu is extensive for such a petite eatery. There are more than a dozen wraps and sandwiches, as well as two daily soups, a handful of salads and numerous baked goods and breakfast choices.
The waffled french toast ($6.50) is a creative mesh of two breakfast staples — egg-soaked Texas bread is cooked in a waffle iron, and then served with warmed maple syrup and powdered sugar.
Other breakfast options include a bagel breakfast sandwich ($6.50) filled with a poached egg, a choice of meats, sliced tomato and cream cheese or the lox bagel ($9.50) that tops a toasted bagel with cream cheese and silky smoked fish.
For lunch, the choices grow to include a tangy Mandarin salad, classic Caesar with creamy dressing and the Greek, served with house-made oregano vinaigrette. I chose the baby spinach salad ($7.50) with sliced chicken breast. The mound of leafy greens is complemented with goat cheese, candied pecans and dried cranberries. The honey-mustard dressing was a bit too creamy for my taste, but it added a necessary tanginess to the salad.
The Ellie’s turkey sandwich ($7.50) is a stack of thick, oven-roasted turkey slices smothered under cranberry sauce, Havarti cheese and mixed greens. Served on slices of sourdough, this sandwich is both healthy and flavorful.
The chicken panini ($7.50) combines lean chicken breast with bacon, avocado, shaved red onion and Havarti cheese, all served on grilled ciabatta. This delicious pressed sandwich is a sure bet for those who want a hearty lunch.
Soups change daily. The day I visited, Ellie’s was serving cheddar potato soup. Clumpy and creamy, the soup seemed a little too dense and heavy, and I suspect that the cafe’s vegetarian black bean chili and lobster bisque are better choices.
Dessert includes daily cakes such as carrot and spice offered by the slice ($4). The spice cake was moist, delectably smothered in sweet buttercream frosting.
Service seemed a bit slow on my clock-watching lunch hour, but Ellie’s Place isn’t intended for those in a hurry. Rather, it’s a place for friends to gather over a meal, or simply enjoy a good cup of joe in downtown Grover Beach.