Editor’s Note: The Biz Beat is a series highlighting local small businesses and restaurants in Silicon Valley.
Before coffee shops became synonymous with overpriced beverages sold in foreign-sounding cup sizes, they were places where the neighborhood met for casual dining. The staff knew what every frequent customer liked and would send their regular order to the kitchen without asking.
San Jose’s Cup and Saucer is that kind of place, where a great selection of good food is paired with attentive, but not intrusive, service. There are about 30 booths, a case filled with fresh-baked cakes and pies and walls lined with photographs of customers posing at tourist attractions in Cup and Saucer t-shirts.
January marked the restaurant’s 30th anniversary.
“It is a comfortable place to be,” owner Raoul Morcate told San José Spotlight. “We think of every single person as a regular. At chain restaurants, they don’t have an owner there to greet you at the door. In a place like this, you have staff who stay as long as possible. You have more of a personal connection with the customers.”
Customers skew to an older demographic, with booths full of seniors taking a social meal together and Scrabble players at a table in the back. Some customers come in several times a week.
The restaurant is “your standard breakfast-lunch-dinner place—we have bacon and eggs for breakfast, meatloaf and 20 variations of chicken,” according to Morcate.
It’s a serious understatement. Going through the prodigious menu is almost daunting—and everything on the menu is available all day long.
There are over 120 different items, some with multiple variations. There are “build your own” options for omelets and pasta, each with 30 possible ingredients. There are numerous Weight Watchers-approved choices, a dozen weekly specials and eight different “dinner for six” deals. Simple math suggests you could eat three meals a day here for a year and never have the same meal twice.
And desserts? Freshly baked bread, cakes and pies compete with an extensive ice cream menu. There’s the top soil sundae—chocolate ice cream, Oreo crumbles, gummy worms, candy rocks and chocolate syrup—as well as cinnamon-crusted raspberry coffee cake. It’s a hard choice.
The themed specials are heavy on whimsy and creativity. At Christmas, Cup and Saucer plays off “Elf on the Shelf” with items like “Johnny Cash on Corned Beef Hash”—English muffin, corned beef hash, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce—and “Bob Ross on the Sauce”—Kalua, coffee, Bailey’s Irish Cream, hot chocolate and a biscotti. One current offering, the “We Were Berry Sad Without You,” is a breakfast sandwich with two eggs, jack cheese, bacon, pickled jalapeños and blackberry jam.
“We call them specials, but they are made up of ingredients we already carry,” Morcate said. “So if a customer says ‘I really want the pizza fries today,’ we can fix them any time. Anything the customer wants, we can handle.”
Any meal at any time
The dinner deal was an outgrowth of the COVID-19 pandemic closures. Along with pre-packaged cook-at-home meals, it was a way to keep the doors open and still cater to the families who are the core business.
Nancy Bardini has been coming to the Cup and Saucer since it opened. She brought her family so often her young daughter called going to the restaurant “eating at home.”
“I love the burgers, and it is one of the few places that still carries liver,” Bardini said. “I’d come with my friends after Weight Watchers meetings—they have things on the menu that work with that, and they are always willing to make adjustments, whatever you need.”
Asked to recommend a dish on the menu, she replied, “You have to try the apricot French toast—it is heavenly.” Another customer mentioned she was celebrating her 80th birthday and made a special trip for breakfast to have the apricot French toast.
The famed apricot French toast doesn’t disappoint. The apricot bread is dotted with dollops of apricot preserves and slathered with butter and apricot syrup. The thick bread has the spongy consistency of a cinnamon roll, and the layers of apricot flavor are bright and not overly sweet.
It’s nice to know that this perfect dish exists and can be ordered for breakfast, lunch or dinner in a place that feels like home.
Contact Robert Eliason at [email protected].
Cup and Saucer: A family restaurant
Location: 1375 Blossom Hill Road Ste. 20 in San Jose
Social Media: https://www.facebook.com/Cup-Saucer-483330561770971/
What puts them on the map: Apricot french toast and a menu with endless options
The restaurant has temporarily reduced its hours due to the pandemic.
Open Monday to Friday 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.