Brunch & Biscuits at the Blue Hen Cafe
From the moment you step foot into this cozy, vintage-inspired breakfast and lunch locale in the heart of St. Augustine's Lincolnville neighborhood, it's clear why The Blue Hen Cafe is a local brunching favorite. Owners Terri Gamble and Jeff Sapp are no strangers to the restaurant industry and their bustling eatery reflects the care and attention they've given to creating a place that brings community together around good food. When she moved to St. Augustine to attend Flagler College in 2002, Terri began a series of food-industry jobs, first at the Bunnery on St. George street, then Cafe 11, Back 40, Collage and The Floridian. Jeff began his career as a teenager shucking oysters at Singleton’s in Mayport, then when on to work for The Chart House in Hawaii and Colorado before returning to the region to open Local Heroes and Back 40. The Blue Hen was born on February 14, 2013 and now resides in a renovated building that formerly housed a laundromat. The cafe, where breakfast is offered all day, has become known for its generous portions of comfort food with a Southern twist and requests for extra homemade peach butter are not uncommon. We caught up with Terri and Jeff to learn more about biscuits, brunch and building community at the Blue Hen.
What role do you feel you are playing in the St. Augustine community, especially Lincolnville?
We love having a business in Lincolnville. It’s such a special neighborhood. It’s important to have a place where neighbors can meet and share a meal together. I love catching up on the local gossip, watching families begin and grow...just going through all the ups and downs of life with people that I’ve come to love over the years. Living in a town so reliant on tourism forces the local community to stay tightly knit, making us that much stronger as a whole.
How early does the kitchen staff start in the morning?
Jeff usually arrives around 5 am to start prepping for the day, making gravy and biscuits and quiche, cutting potatoes, etc. The rest of the kitchen crew arrives at 6 am and the front of house arrives at 7 am.
How did you develop the menu, and how often does it change?
The menu was created by the two of us and combines our love for tacos, cilantro, datils and everything that make a good Southern breakfast. The menu doesn’t change too often but daily specials reflect the seasonal changes.
Tell us something not many readers know about the Blue Hen.
The Blue Hen is loosely named after The Blue Goose, a somewhat notorious Lincolnville bar that used to be on the corner of Kings Ferry and Riberia. There are some great local stories about The Blue Goose but they probably shouldn’t be in print.
Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe is a wonderful little restaurant in Charlotte, NC. Jeff and I ate there years ago and loved everything, especially their sweet potato hash. Jeff created the meal of sweet potatoes topped with a sausage, cheddar and scallion frittata and we decided to name it after this lovely cafe.
What's the secret to great biscuits?
The secret to great biscuits is DO NOT OVER WORK THEM. Keep your hands light and let the air in the dough do the work.
What's your most popular brunch dish?
Buttermilk Chicken Biscuits are the top seller at any time of the day, followed closely by the Corned Beef Hash.
Looking for a new place to brunch in St. Augustine? Stop by The Blue Hen Cafe, 117 MLK Avenue in St. Augustine for the peach butter and biscuits.