By the end of the week, Carnival Cafe’s owner Matt Purohit plans to be open and offering all of the carnival food people enjoy, along with many unknown treats that are original to his cafe.
“It’s a quick-service restaurant,” Purohit said, adding that customers can use the drive-thru, come to the counter or have it delivered through Grubhub.
Located in Shawnee Plaza, the outside of the restaurant showcases signs that are typically seen at fairs or on carnival food vendors.
Once inside the cafe, it is like stepping into the circus with the decorations and bright colors. Tables are for those who want to dine in, and menus let customers see that not everything is fried.
“We want to be sure it is the best quality,” Purohit said, adding that his food is not frozen.
All menu items are under $5. Polish and Italian sausages are offered with onions and peppers on a grilled bun and for just a couple of dollars more, customers can have fresh-cut French fries and a large drink.
One whole bar in the cafe offers drinks for customers who purchase a cup. Purhoit wanted to include a Jolly Rancher frozen drink machine. Not quite a slushie, the drinks offer a carbonated, Jolly Rancher-flavored drink without tasting the ice. These are currently being served in six flavors where the customer can even mix choices.
“This is the only machine like this in the area,” Pirohit said.
Also offered is a 16-flavor soda fountain where customers can invent their own beverages using Pepsi, Coca-Cola or RC products, along with flavored syrups.
Cappuccinos, teas and coffee is also included on the bar and different coffee creamer flavorings are available, including Oreo and Reese’s peanut butter cup.
And refills are free, and all drinks are the same price no matter the selection.
The back counter is for ordering food and ice cream with toppings.
The ice cream machine Purohit has installed makes soft serve ice cream with over 65 flavor combinations. Adding to that, customers can customize their ice cream with over 27 solid toppings and 20 liquid toppings.
“This lets them customize the ice cream the way they want,” Purohit said, adding that customers can also make floats with the ice cream and soda machine.
Purohit hopes that customers will be creative in their drink and ice cream selections and will post pictures to social media of their creations. He said he has seen this recently and that the ones he notices are extremely colorful, something he hopes people notice about the cafe.
For those that want more than self-serve options, the menu is full of nostalgic options, said Jeremy Brown, a self-proclaimed “carney” and the cook and manager
of the Carnival Cafe. As a person who has worked in the carnival world for 35 years, Brown easily navigates the carnival food menu.
With house made “grater taters,” which are ribbon fries, Philly cheese steaks, corn dogs, house-made fries and blooming onions, customers can have a meal before their dessert options.
Brown has experience with carnival rides, food, games and management, but said the lifestyle of the carnival is what draws him year after year.
“We are basically a breed of our own,” Brown said. “We are a mobile city with our own water and electric.”
He works concession stands with Casey’s Rides and will most likely return when the season begins again in March, but for now, he is creating all of the “old-time” options people want from the carnival.
“If you can get it at a carnival, you can get it here,” he said.
Funnel cakes, churros, fried Oreos, fried Twinkies and fried Ding Dongs are on the menu, and customers have the option of any of the ice cream toppings being added to their fried dessert.
“Jeremy has a great recipe,” Purohit said of the batter.
Brown also mixes batches of his original lemonade that is the perfect mix of sweet and tart.
Both men hope to add to the menu to feature other items people remember from the carnival or fair, including candy apples, caramel corn and homemade truffles.
Purohit has many ideas to make his cafe the greatest show on Scherm, including carnival games outside the restaurant when it gets warmer.
Carnival Cafe will be open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from noon to 7 p.m. on Sunday. It is located at 1741 Scherm Road.