He served it by the slice
Jim Petitpas shows the three-layer cake at Minnie's, a
tradition that he started many years ago to help feed
the crowd that might have over-embibed at Pete Reynard's restaurant.
HOLMES BEACH – The spot where Minnie’s Beach Café is located, at 5360 Gulf Drive, has housed a diner for more than 20 years. Recently, a man with a long history at the previous restaurants was eating at Minnie’s with his wife, preparing to go back north.
Jim and Marriette Petitpas now live in Philadelphia, but they purchased a duplex recently in Bradenton, where they hope to live when he finishes his current job in Phillie in a few years.
Petitpas worked at the café when it was Linda’s Sunnyside Up and Brian’s and he was happy to see a familiar tradition was being continued, a three layer lemon cake sitting on the counter by the checkout register.
Petitpas said he started that tradition of the cake, three layers high, iced and uncut – when he worked at Linda’s, which served a very early breakfast for the celebrants who had imbibed too much at Pete Reynard’s and other night spots.
“We would open sometimes as early as midnight so people could enjoy a breakfast and sober up before heading home.” He said. “Some people wanted dessert so I made a three-layer cake, but nobody ate it.
“I started offering a slice with a cup of coffee and the next night, it seemed like the cake flew off the counter,” he said. “Then we started getting calls from people wanting to reserve a piece.”
Petitpas said owner Linda Grieg became a fan.
“I would make a cake while Linda worked the breakfast shift,” he said. “She would finish and sit down to do the books and I would bring her a piece.”
Petitpas said the secret to properly presenting the cake is to leave it on the counter, covered and unsliced.
“When a customer asks for a piece, cut off a slice and serve it,” he said, “It looks fresher that way and they can order the size they want.”
Now Minnie’s bakes a cake per day in season and you can order a whole cake for birthdays or weddings.
Petitpas worked several jobs while he and his wife lived on the Island 20 years ago and they lived humbly in a cottage on the beach near the S curve, in Bradenton Beach.
“There was no air conditioning and we had two daughters who also had to adapt, but every day before the sun set we would gather to watch it hit the water,” he said. “We were so close to the Gulf, waves would hit the roof during storms.
“We moved to Philadelphia 20 years ago,” said his wife, Marriette, “but this is where we left our hearts.”
As they prepared to return to their home up north, Jim Petitpas is happy that the owners of Minnie’s are still keeping the sliced cake tradition alive.
“We’ll be back,” Jim Petitpas said. “This is where we want to be.”