We all have our own Sunday morning memories. Waking up groggy and rolling out of bed only because the smell of bacon awoke you; mom flipping eggs while the old coffee pot sputters and percolates on the stove and everyone talks at the same time – the quiet buzz of preparing for the day. Established 5 and a half years ago on Main Street in Port Dalhousie, Rozie’s Breakfast Café is the closest thing to waking up back at home on Sunday morning. Flooding the senses with warm buttery rye bread, sizzling fried eggs and rich savoury sweet waffles as you push through the door – served alongside a buzz of happy chatter –all those memories flood in. It’s a place that hugs you, from the delicious food to the always friendly service.
Owners Rozie and Rick Stodulski had been living in Vaughan when they decided to relocate their family of eight to St. Catharines. Though their intention was to open a veal shop and sell sandwiches similar to their favourite place in Toronto, Rozie says that once they found the breakfast restaurant was for sale, they knew it was meant to be.
“We absolutely fell in love with Port Dalhousie,” said Rozie. “When we came here, we drove around and saw the marina and the water and the homes and we immediately started to speak to people; we couldn’t believe we didn’t know about it before.” “This [restaurant] was meant to be for us,” said Rozie. “Moving out here on a whim, and finding this place after we said we would figure it out once we moved; it was just perfect for us and our kids.” “Rick looked around town and said, ‘there is nothing down here,’” said Rozie. “And then we found out this is rowing central, there are lots of rowers in town all summer, and we also found out about some of the difficult things that Port Dalhousie has gone through in the past few years, and we realised, those have to be coming to an end soon. We saw that some people were trying to revitalise spaces already and so Rick said, ‘this is perfect’. We wanted to be a part of this.”With one glance at their uncomplicated menu, it is easy to understand why Rozie’s has been such a success.
Featuring classic egg and toast combos, waffles piled a mile high with sliced fresh fruit and real maple syrup, their famous Gerry’s grilled cheese, fresh, cut by hand the night before homefries sautéed with onions, thick cheesy omelets and soft poached eggs smothered in velvety hollandaise sauce – one of Rozie’s personal go-to breakfast choices.
Knickknacks and photos crowd the walls, representing the community where Rozie and her family have chosen to make their home. Paddles from the local rowing clubs and schools hang from the ceiling signed with heartfelt regards and appreciation, wine barrels flank the cash register and community flyers rest on tables for hands to pick up. Rozie said she attests their success to not only the hard work of their family – their six children can always be found working the busy restaurant and Rozie attests the cafe’s homey, eclectic design to her creative husband – but to their dedicated staff, loyal customers and to the community who opened their arms to them from the beginning.
“I am only as good as the people all around me,” said Rozie. “At the beginning, yes, it was mostly me and my family but once we got busier – it is only humanly possible to do so much – we now have some very very quality people here. I have key people that make it all happen. Yes, on the weekends I still like to cook on the line – I love it and I think it is important.But it is really the people that we have here that make us successful.”
“The community was so supportive of us right away. I think at the beginning it was a curiosity thing; word spread ‘what is this, some family with six kids.’ But in coming in, the [customers] sensed our sincerity and our love of serving the community.’Rozie and her family have worked hard over the years to repay the community that welcomed their family with open arms. Rozie’s actively supports local charitable events donates to local sports teams and supports their customer’s personal endeavours whenever they can.
“As much as this has to be a viable business, maybe to a fault of mine, it is not the rest thing on the priority list,” said Rozie. “The first thing on that list is being part of the community and offering a friendly extension of our home to the community. Come in, enjoy a nice breakfast, enjoy a chat with people, have something good and something consistent.”
The future continues to look bright and busy for Rozie and her family; they recently opened RIX Bistro – in conjunction with the new craft micro-brewery Lock Street Brewery in Port Dalhousie. “[Lock Street Brewing Company] wanted to be a little different than your typical craft brewery that doesn’t serve food – they wanted to have a kitchen that served up some really great food to go with their beers,” said Rozie. “So one conversation led to another and then one day my husband came home and said ‘guess what, we are opening another place’.”
This new partner endeavour is located at the site of the old Lion’s Tavern on Lock Street and serves take out style individual pizzas, burritos and soups alongside catering to the brewery’s patrons with a special menu of beer-infused dishes – including veggie pizzas with beer caramelised onions, cheddar ale soup and more. “We will be cooking with the beer whenever we can,” said Rozie. “Anyone sitting at the brewery and ordering beer will be able to order from a special evolving menu combined with staple items and changing dishes of food paired with the beers on tap at the moment. Rozie said the food will be fresh and made up of primarily local produce. “The idea there is right on our banner: whole-some foods, burritos and unique eats,” said Rozie.
“We are doing our very best to choose fresh ingredients, choose ingredients with less preservatives – our pizza dough has five ingredients in it – and local meats from local butchers. We are going to do this as much as we can.”Despite being in a part of Port Dalhousie that has struggled in recent years, the family has managed to not only make their business thrive – continually filling their tables on even the quietest of weekdays, but be a huge asset to the revitalization of one of our cities best neighbourhoods, helping it to continue to rebuild and thrive once again.
BY GABRIELLE TIEMAN