Francisco Gonzalez opened his second family-owned restaurant in Madison, Lola’s Café, on Aug. 1 to bring his own style of breakfast foods to Madison’s far west side.
Gonzalez’s first restaurant in Madison, Francisco’s Cantina, is located downtown and specializes in casual Mexican cuisine, featuring a full bar and outdoor seating. However, with Lola’s Café, Gonzalez wanted to try out a new direction.
“Well I opened this kind because we have a restaurant, a Mexican restaurant, downtown. Before opening that Mexican restaurant, I was working in a different family restaurant,” Gonzalez said. “So I don’t know, I just wanted a change. I wanted to give it a try.”
The restaurant first opened a week prior to their Aug. 1 grand opening with a soft opening, and let word of mouth compel customers in.
Lola’s Café offers a wide assortment of breakfast items, with a modern, family-friendly atmosphere. With a focus on fresh ingredients and simple yet delicious homemade comfort foods, Lola’s Café brings a much-needed outlet to west Madison.
When creating the menu, Gonzalez turned to friends and family to recreate some of their personal favorite breakfast foods, along with thinking back on some of his favorites from other restaurants.
“My menu is things that I like, things that I see at other restaurants that I use to go that were good, but I put my own touch on them,” Gonzalez said. “I just create my menu on what I think people will like.”
Gonzalez firmly believes in creating fresh, made-to-order meals — and holds that standard at the forefront of his café.
For Gonzalez, there’s no room to cut corners — he ensures that all foods that arrive at the table were made personally for you.
“You know, every restaurant has their own way they do things. I’m a very traditional person and like to keep everything fresh and made ready to order,” Gonzalez said. “It’s a little harder, but I think it’s better for them. It might take a few minutes more, but they’re getting something fresh and something made right when they order it.”
The establishment emphasizes the importance of fresh food and ingredients in creating the best possible dishes. Fresh foods simply taste and feel better, according to Gonzalez. Through the use of both local and healthy ingredients, Gonzalez hopes Lola’s Café stands out.
“I focused a lot on things that are good for people, healthy and the ingredients — I get a lot of my ingredients local…” Gonzalez said. “So I did it based on that part too, what is going to be available all year round?”
Gonzalez owns the restaurant alongside his parents, who play an integral role in its management and production. As a family-owned business, honoring traditions is of utmost importance.
The name, Lola’s Café, serves as a tribute to Gonzalez’s grandmother, who established the love of food and cooking in his family from a young age.
“Lola is my grandma. She was from the country of Mexico, and she moved to Mexico City before I was even born, like in the ’60s or ’70s,” Gonzalez said. “She sold food on the street: breakfast, like tamales, coffee; you know that kind of thing.”
His grandmother later expanded her business to serve traditional Mexican dinner entrees as well and is a large reason why his family entered the culinary world.
“She passed away two years ago. So we thought ‘let’s put her name here.’ We were between two different names, and we were like ‘ah, let’s just put my mom’s name! That way I remember her every day,'” Gonzalez said.
While many menu items are inspired by his grandmother’s love for homemade breakfast foods, other menu items are inspired by Gonzalez’s travels and experiences at other American-style breakfast restaurants.
One menu item that has become a hit at the establishment, according to Gonzalez, is their eggs benedict — served with a homemade hollandaise sauce by Gonzalez himself.
“That’s another thing that has become very popular. They love them, they love my hollandaise sauce — I make it myself,” Gonzalez said. “I travel sometimes and I find restaurants that serve eggs benedict and I thought I’d give them a try. And you know, they’re working well, people like them — so I’m glad I put them on the menu.”
Lola’s Café offers multiple varieties of eggs benedict, from more traditional versions with eggs, ham and hollandaise sauce to special versions with asparagus and other vegetables.
Gonzalez believes there is an entrée on the extensive menu suitable for all tastes and dietary needs, from vegetarian and healthy options to traditional bacon and eggs.
“A lot of people go for the scramble. You can choose vegetarian, you can choose meat or cheese — there’s a lot of choices for everybody,” Gonzalez said. “Meat people, veggie people: There are options for everybody.”
In the restaurant’s first two months, Gonzalez expressed that their only setback so far was timeliness — which his staff and himself are learning to perfect. Because of the new, large menu and new location, the first few weeks served as a learning experience for his staff.
“There were some times when we were very new, or, you know, some employees were a little nervous — everything was new for us. There we no real complaints about the food, they said the food was excellent but it was taking a little long,” Gonzalez said. “You know, we’re getting there. We make sure that won’t happen again, making sure people get their food fast and good, too.”
With newly improved service and fresh ingredients, Gonzalez hopes more Madison residents will come out and try the food at Lola’s Café.
Visit Lola’s Café at 610 Junction Rd. for inexpensive, made-to-order breakfast delights and personalized family service.