Ala Carte Café celebrates 10th anniversary

Apr 9, 2024 | Featured, Business | 1 comment

Ala Carte Café celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)


When Lisa Black’s aunt and uncle, Ellie and Denny Carte, opened Ala Carte Café in 1989, Lisa joined the staff and stayed on as an employee until she became a teacher in 2004. Ten years later, Lisa and her husband, Bill Black, who was working at a factory, were ready for a change. The Cartes, too, were ready for something different, so they sold the restaurant to Lisa and Bill.

“We were looking for a different future than what we were both doing,” Lisa said.

On April 3, Lisa and Bill celebrated the restaurant’s 10th anniversary. In the last decade, the diner has become a favorite hotspot for locals and an annual tradition for many tourists.

“There aren’t many locals who haven’t been here before, and if it’s their first time here, someone directed them here,” Lisa said.

The Blacks changed little when they purchased Ala Carte Café.

“We added and enhanced some menu items, but basically, we kept things the same,” Lisa said. “My aunt and uncle created a good thing.”

The specials board at Ala Carte Café changes often. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The Black’s commitment to the diner’s foundations have kept Ala Carte successful for ten years. Even on cold days, a line of locals waiting for an open breakfast table can often be seen at the front door.

“It’s the consistency,” Lisa said. “And it’s our product. We make a homemade breakfast that people like and want.”

Customers also come for the friendly service, including the summer tourists, the spring birders and the Camp Perry marksmen who show up annually. Ala Carte Café has customers from around the world, many of whom make a trip to the diner an annual vacation tradition.

“I talk to thousands of people,” Bill said. “Many of them remember my name year after year.”

Ala Carte Café’s service is buoyed by an exceptional staff.

“We have loyal customers that come in here every day or every Saturday. I love reading the Google reviews about great food and great service,” Lisa said. “We have great employees. We’re so fortunate to have our employees.”

Some of the staff are family members, including Ellie Carte, who still works at the café. The employees work in an atmosphere sustained by the respect of dedicated owners.

“We explain to them from the beginning that we are working owners,” Bill said. “We cook. We clean. We mop the floors.”

Bill and Lisa Black call themselves working owners. They said they have a great staff, and they work alongside them cooking, cleaning and mopping floors. (Photo by Sheri Trusty)

The one big change that came to Ala Carte Café was the addition of Ala Carte After Hours, which opened next door in 2020. The restaurant provides room for overflow breakfast crowds and is open for lunch and dinner. Among After Hour’s favorites is Prime Rib specials on Saturday nights.

Music Bingo is featured on Wednesdays 6 to 8:30 p.m., and live entertainment starts at 6 p.m. on Friday nights. Karaoke, on Saturdays from 6 to 9 p.m., is wildly popular at the restaurant. The business also features a banquet room for parties, dinners and meetings that seats about 75 people. Many local groups – including the Lions, Kiwanis and Rotary clubs – meet there.

The Blacks plan to have some kind of 10th anniversary recognition in the future. For now, they’ll keep focusing on loyal customers like Emery Fetterman, who eats breakfast at the diner every day.

“I like everything about it,” Fetterman said. “It has great service and friendly people.”

Ala Carte Café is located at 225 Madison St. in Port Clinton. For more information, visit the Ala Carte Cafe or Ala Carte After Hours Facebook pages. The diner can be reached at 419-734-9939.

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1 Comment

  1. Scott Gresser

    Always great food when you go there. Congratulations Lisa and Bill.


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