Merit at Merritt Cafe: Home-cooking, hospitality, and culinary surprises

Bonnie Graham, with her mother Estella Merritt and daughter Christina Graham, serves good eats at Merritt Bakery & Cafe. Photo by Jay Levan,

For breakfast or lunch, made-to-order with fresh ingredients, served up with warmth and a sparkle, Merritt Bakery & Cafe at the corner of Roanoke and Noble roads in Cleveland Heights might be just the place for you.

Owner Bonnie Graham opened the business in February 2000, assisted by her mother, Estella Merritt, for whom the café is named. Both mother and daughter do cooking and baking, but Estella (called “Mom” by some of the regulars) is the primary cook.

Their business began by carrying a basket of goodies to office parks or school boards for munching, expanded into catering when customers demanded more, and evolved into the café.

Estella’s blueberry and banana walnut pancakes are among the dine-in breakfast favorites. Traditional breakfast foods are available, too: croissant egg-sandwiches, French toast with bacon, and muffins and coffee to-go.

Lunch features include corned beef, turkey, ham, tuna, chili or chicken salad sandwiches, wraps, soup in cold months, and delicious main-dish salads with grilled chicken and homemade dressings.

Desserts are always visible in the counter-case. Staples are cookies, brownies, individual cake slices, sweet potato pie, and bread pudding with Estella’s fabulous lemon sauce.

Mother and daughter cater for office or private parties, including Continental breakfasts, box lunches, and meals to order. You can pick up a long list of special occasion cakes and pies to order. Red velvet cake and peach cobbler are perennial favorites.

The fourth of six children, Bonnie has been asked about how it feels to work with her mother. “We’re the best of friends,” she says. “We even talk in sync.” Estella “retired” from Caterpillar in 1993 after 25 years, but three years later found her true calling with Bonnie.

On any given day, neighborhood denizens or café fans will be found at one of the establishment’s five cozy tables exclaiming over their meals.

“You receive a warm welcome when you walk in, and the food is very good,” responded Brady Howard.

“Their food is awesome and they’re really nice people,” remarked David Eros of Cleveland Heights.

The café is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and till 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, when you can order dinner items (eat-in or carry out). Call 216-291-2776.

Delia Burke is a retired government worker and former English teacher who loves living in Cleveland Heights. 

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Volume 2, Issue 2, Posted 1:47 PM, 02.03.2009