Abel’s entrepreneurs stick with what works as new Simon’s owners, celebrate 1-year anniversary
By Jane Bartnett
There’s something special about a neighborhood coffee house. It’s a place where comfort food and a welcoming atmosphere, with no formality, come together.
It was this combination that drew Jerry and Jill Williams, owners of the popular Abel’s Ice Cream on Stickney Point Road, to the cozy coffee, breakfast-and-lunch spot called Simon’s Coffee House. It’s a few blocks south of Phillippi Estate Park on South Tamiami Trail.
“It was our favorite place to eat,” said Jerry Williams, looking back on how the couple discovered Simon’s. They became friends with founder and owner Simon Kirby and, after learning he was interested in selling the restaurant that he had owned and managed for 20 years, the couple jumped at the chance to make it their own.
With more than 25 years of experience in the restaurant business, Jerry Williams knew a success story when he saw one.
“Simon’s has a nice vibe and it’s very non-judgmental,” he said as he spoke about the draw that the casual dining spot enjoys with loyal community residents.
Williams sees no need to make any significant changes to the much-loved Simon’s breakfast, lunch and brunch menus. Known as a place where vegans and non-vegans are equally at home, he reports with pride that “all are welcome here.”
The menu “has a British tint,” said Williams with a laugh noting that it pays tribute to the restaurant’s founder, a native of London and a world traveler. The breakfast menu features scrambled eggs served with “banger sausage,” and the Prince Phillip Plate — a nod to the late royal’s Greek roots — is offered as a vegan or non-vegan entree with eggs scrambled with spinach, feta and olives, served with sliced tomatoes and a grilled spanakopita (a spinach and feta pie).
The Costa Rica crepe and the turkey club crepe offer an international twist on the traditional French favorite. The Vegan Buddha is made with scrambled tofu with turmeric, veggies, mushrooms and soy sausage. The breakfast menu is also designed for vegan and non-vegan palates and includes old-fashioned oatmeal and porridge. There are also fresh juice selections such as the “Green Mouth,” made with kale, spinach, celery, lettuce, broccoli, pineapple and ginger. Fresh juice shots, fruit smoothies and specialty shakes are also on the menu.
Befitting a proper coffee establishment, coffee and tea are priority items at Simon’s Coffee House. Espresso, cappuccino, latte, Americano, mocha, hot chocolate, and Simon’s house blend along with the local Java Dawg Coffee are available all day. A large selection of teas includes an unsweetened tea specially blended from a local tea company in the form of house-made Chai Tea; local artisan teas of herbal, green and black; hand-shaken Mt. Fuji iced green tea; and Kombucha tea on draft.
The restaurant is divided into an indoor take-out area with a walk-up counter for items to go and an adjacent dining room that offers comfortable counter seating, as well as casual dining at tables. The outdoor shaded seating area is also popular with diners.
Deli lovers will be happy to know that the Simon’s lunch offerings include paninis and cold sandwiches. Vegetarian burgers and Greek spanakopita are offered as a regular or vegan option. Salads and kids’ sandwiches are also available.
Seating is available for up to 100 people.
Williams is especially proud of the Simon’s Coffee House bakery offerings. “Our desserts are baked on site and the vegan chocolate cake is really good,” says the man who, through his ice cream expertise, knows a thing or two about sweet treats.
“We have two talented bakers,” he reported. “One creates our traditional items and the other bakes our vegan items.”
He calls the vegan cinnamon rolls “outstanding,” and says the vegan and traditional scones, as well as the biscotti, are also delicious.
Brunch is on the menu all day Sunday. Williams said “Sunday is one of our busiest days.” Waffles, eggs and brunch bowls top the list of the most popular items. A small wine selection and mimosas are available for lunch every day and for Sunday brunch. Beers include the local Sarasota Calusa, Coors, Blue Moon, and Yuengling’s Light Flight.
As the owners celebrate the first anniversary of the new chapter for the Simon’s Coffee House, they are happy to be the new stewards. “We’d really love for more people on Siesta Key to come and join us for breakfast, lunch or brunch,” said Williams.
Visit Simon’s Coffee Shop at simonstogo.com. Order online for pick up or call (941) 926-7151. Lunch catering is available for large groups.
The business is located at 5900 S. Tamiami Trail. Hours are Monday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.