Story & Photos by Gail G. Collins
Don’t mess with success. In fact, diners could be forgiven if, over their quiche, they didn’t notice the shift to new ownership at Brandy’s. That was the plan after 20 years, as retiring owners Ed and Brandy Wojciak handed over the keys to Kelsey and Jamie Drayton. In the end, it was more of a legacy transfer. Kelsey began working as a dishwasher for Brandy’s at 15 years old and advanced while working his way through classes at Northern Arizona University where Jamie also attended. The couple moved to Los Angeles for several years before returning to Flagstaff with plans to open a coffee shop and got wind that Brandy’s was for sale. Over two years, the Draytons transitioned from managers to owners. “We kept what was working for a smooth transition,” Kelsey said. “All the dishes are made from scratch, from batters and pastries to hand-sliced fries.”
Brandy’s is an icon in Flagstaff and a local love. The classic coffee house and diner is homey with its chalkboard of daily specials and proud with a wall of framed recognition that includes years of winning Arizona Daily Sun Best Of’s, Phoenix Magazine and others, plus Businesses for the Arts Viola Awards. In fact, Brandy’s takes a leadership position in promoting local talent. “We go the extra mile for the arts,” Jamie said. “It’s part of our culture at Brandy’s.” The eatery offers a Sneak Peak for Open Studios and regularly showcases and celebrates artists.
When everything is cooking along so well in a restaurant, sometimes the nerviest thing is a bit of change. With careful consideration, the Draytons dropped a few items from the menu without customer crisis. Then, they added some specials, like prosciutto eggs Benedict with an Italian twist and avocado. “The plan is to rotate specials to find the dishes customers crave,” Kelsey said. This led to serving Firecreek Coffee Company’s artisan, small-batch roasted beans for an intense, flavorful espresso or a shot in a velvety latte. If it’s a weekend for toasting, try a mimosa or its tropical update, adding pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine for some fizzy, fruity fun.
When the morning rush only allows you to swing by Brandy’s, the coffee menu and pastry case will not disappoint. Choosing is the problem. A warm Danish is subtly sweet with a swirl of cream cheese and sugar drizzle over slivered and ground almonds, or maybe a dense and berry moist, gluten-free white chocolate raspberry cake. Stick with a standard sticky bun for a chewy, nutty twist covered in ooey, gooey caramel or dunk a buttery tart cranberry almond biscotti in your morning brew.
For leisurely fueling, eat in and try a breakfast BLT. All of the usual suspects are in the line-up, plus a fluffy, folded layer of scrambled eggs, melted cheddar, a wheel of tomato and the crack of crisp romaine. Eggs Brandy’s perches perfect poaches atop a handcrafted bagel with a slab of smoky, apple cider-cured bacon, bathed in hollandaise sauce. The dish is served with their signature country potatoes—seasoned, skin-on, pan-charred chunks. Of course, a million Flag residents and tourists can’t be wrong when ordering the Swedish oat pancake. That’s right, only one buttermilk beauty. It eats like a bowl of oats as a platter-sized flapjack, served filled with fruit or a ruddy slather of hot, cinnamon applesauce.
Brandy’s offers an indomitable breakfast spread which powers into lunch without blinking. The Brandy Melt is an example. A grilled, house made sourdough baguette with pesto mayo holds smoked turkey, green chilies, melty Swiss and thinly-sliced green apple for a tangy sandwich stack. Or stay with a classic Reuben. Grilled, house made rye heaped with lean layers of corned beef, blanketed in Swiss cheese on one slice and piled with sauerkraut on the other. The open-faced display begs to be matched up with Russian dressing and a dill pickle spear. Order the home made coleslaw for the Rachel version. Either way, the loaded sandwiches deliver a hearty, zippy mouthful. So, the successful standard continues at Brandy’s, where customers can order exceptional eggs, any way they like them, or a solid stock of sandwiches that please. NAMLM
Learn more at www.brandysrestaurant.com