The recent opening of Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in the Crystal River Historic District has added an all-new unique boutique to the area attractions.
Owner James Cook has opened a fifth version of his successful venture at the site of the former Highlander Cafe on Citrus Avenue, marking a return to Crystal River after six years. He previously operated a similar business on Citrus Avenue.
The very busy entrepreneur and award-winning chef said a sixth Cattle Dog will premier on State Road 200 in Ocala early in 2020 as well.
“We are excited to be back in Crystal River,” Cook said, noting his cafe will soon feature a monthly dinner night.
Soaring to his present level of business acumen was not an easy journey for Cook. During the years of work and planning, he managed to shore up his health by losing 200 pounds, enduring two hip replacements and bouts with other medical surgeries and procedures.
A graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s prestigious culinary program, Cook grew up in the restaurant business in Crescent, California. He and his wife, Heather, acquired the original Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters in the Pine Ridge area in 2009 from founder Stephen Durst.
“She’s the secret behind our success,” he praised Heather, referring to her work with websites and myriad other accomplishments.
Also in the planning stages is a “coffee roastery, possibly at the Withalacoochee Technical School in Inverness,” he said.
Chef Cook’s popular menu at the Cattle Dog locations is testament to his kitchen skills, and awards for participation in Taste of Inverness and World Food competitions.
And, as the cafe’s name implies, there is emphasis on coffee, in every imaginable taste from worldwide sources, brewed both hot and cold daily and also sold by the pound and shipped if desired.
Among beverages served on site are latte, cappuccino, espresso, loose leaf tea, cold brew, nitro cold brew, French press, chemex brewed and bottled drinks.
Breakfast is available until 11 a.m. and lunch all day until closing. Bagels and toppings, breakfast sandwiches and assorted fresh-baked pastries are included in the morning menu.
Lunch items offer Apple Pumpkin Harvest and Asian Pear and Gorgonzola salads for $7.25 (add chicken for $3 more).
Popular sandwiches include the No. 1 favorite — Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad on Pumpernickel — as well as Cattle Dog French Dip Panini, Yuengling Bratwurst Panini, Spicy Mandarin Chicken Wrap, Cattle Dog Portobello French Dip Panini, Santa Fe Chicken Cubano, Steak Portobello Wrap and Smoked Turkey with Swiss Cheese and Avocado.
The menu changes quarterly at all Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters, in Crystal River, Inverness, Lecanto and Citrus Memorial Hospital.
The Oktober Infused Flatbread is a symphony of house-made flatbread, roasted garlic spread topping with roasted sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, Yuengling-infused bratwurst, Granny Smith apples, fennel, baby tomatoes, organic baby spinach, queso fresco, Parmesan and balsamic glaze. A veritable feast for $10.50.
The decor at the new Cattle Dog features a comfortable sitting room with a sofa and upholstered chairs, upscale upgraded dining area with tables sporting the Cattle Dog logo and a new exterior stairway to an upstairs office.
Six employees are on hand to greet and serve customers, including manager Kathleen Dobran, who began her tenure at Cattle Dog six years ago — also praised by Cook as essential to the success of the business.
Cook said he is especially pleased that he can offer “multiple insurance benefits” to his employees and may eventually be able to offer them shares in his business, something of a rarity in small enterprises.
Cattle Dog Coffee Roasters is at 541 N. Citrus Ave., Crystal River. Hours are currently from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Call 352-228-8818 for carry-out and information.