Story by Morgan Fliss

East Lake Café, located in the East Lake Woodlands Shopping Center, has been providing customers with delicious food since their doors opened in 2003. 

A family-friendly atmosphere, tasty menu items, and a 4.5-star rating on Google make East Lake Café a favorite among local customers in the area. The café is owned and operated by Peter Pergola, who strives to make a fresh and delicious meal for everyone who walks through the door. 

East Lake Café is a family establishment and welcomes everyone to enjoy one of their freshly made meals that are made from scratch right after you order. With fresh meals that are cooked to order, East Lake Café is very accommodating towards any allergy or dietary restrictions!

“East Lake Café is awesome. [They have] amazing food and outstanding service. Our breakfast was unbelievable! It was hot and fresh and so good. All of the staff members are so friendly and professional, so it is a pleasure to [sit] and enjoy a wonderful meal. I would HIGHLY recommend East Lake Café,” said happy customer Bob Swango.

Along with a spacious interior, the café has a large outdoor patio where you can enjoy your food in the beautiful Florida weather! This area can accommodate your canine friends who are always welcome. In addition, all tables are equipped with umbrellas that provide plenty of shade, as well as a shaded corridor under the roof that provides shelter from the elements. 

While you eat and people watch, piped in music is auditable for your entertainment.

East Lake Café serves a variety of breakfast and lunch specialty items in addition to your typical fare to enjoy. Every dish is cooked to order and can be customized to meet your individual dietary requirements, that may include allergies, food sensitivities and gluten free needs.

The all-day breakfast menu at East Lake Café is filled with so many tasty options that deciding what to eat may be the hardest part of your visit!

Customer Natalie compliments the delicious breakfast menu saying “I live very close, and it is my go-to breakfast and brunch place! However, they have a huge, wonderful menu with whatever you want. The service is also wonderful always, and they help each other so you are never waiting for anything.”

Some of the delicious Breakfast combos include the 2+2+2 (eggs your way and pancakes with your choice of smoked applewood bacon, ham or sausage), eggs with corned beef hash, and N.Y Strip and Eggs to name a few. Genuine egg whites are also available upon request.

If you are someone who loves pancakes, waffles, crepes and French toast, East Lake Café is the place to go! They allow you to customize your own stack, so you are sure to get precisely what you want! The café not only has tasty golden pancakes, but they also have healthy multigrain pancakes that are loaded with granola, raisins, bananas, and walnuts, just to name a few. They also make fresh Texas-style French toast and waffles where you can add an array of fruit, nuts, and syrup to complete your perfect breakfast. As well as all this, gluten-free pancakes and waffles are also available upon request. 

With locally roasted Kahwa coffee, straight from St. Petersburg, coffee lovers are sure to enjoy the brew with a bottomless pit. All coffee is freshly brewed, ensuring that you have the best cup. Don’t forget to try East Lake Cafes Espresso favorites, which include Cappuccino, Latte, Mochaccino, Vanilla Cappuccino, and even Irish Coffee. 

On top of all these fantastic breakfast items, East Lake Café has a full lunch menu! The menu has a variety of sandwiches, wraps, salads, burgers, and more! Some of the delicious menu items offered are Chicken Ciabatta, 8 oz. Black Angus Burgers (which can be substituted for a turkey burger upon request), Pressed Cuban, Chicken Salad Croissant, Muffuletta, Reuben, Chicken Quesadillas and Roast Turkey Wraps, to name a few. All sandwiches and entrees come with a side of your choice, which include house-made soups, turkey chili, side salads, pineapple cole slaw, potato salad or Pasta Salad!

As well as all the sandwich and wrap options, the café offers a plethora of flavorful salads. All salads are made using fresh ingredients, and toppings and can be customized to your liking. Some of their delicious salad options are the East Lake Chef, Honey Mustard Chicken, Greek, Grilled Chicken Caprese, Spinach, Mediterranean with crabmeat & shrimp, Chicken Cobb, International (fresh hummus, ricotta, avocado, sundried tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, tomatoes, and grilled pita) and the Cashew Poppy Chicken salad, which is a house favorite.

Some other entrée choices include Country Fried Steak with Gravy, Fish and Chips, Grilled Chicken Breast, Jumbo Gulf Shrimp, Boneless Buffalo Chicken Wings, and N.Y Strip Steak. For adults over 21, the café offers bottled beers & craft, Mimosas, Bloody Mary’s, Spiked Arnold Palmer, as well as Maple Leaf Iced Tea, Pepsi products, Imported Bottled Water with or without fizz.  

Jaime compliments the restaurant’s menu stating “[I received] first class service, great food to order and the best mimosas around. I am a happy customer here! I bring my family here just about every Sunday and we always have a great brunch.”
              After lunch, customers can try East Lake Café’s sweet and tasty desserts that include individual-sized Lemon Cake, Tiramisu Cake or Dulce de Leche Fried Cheesecake and ice-cream that includes, banana splits, waffles and ice-cream and Dr. Pepper floats.

“[The café] has the best brunch in Tampa Bay! I have been coming to the East Lake Café for over 15 years, and every time I eat here, there is always stellar service, a delicious brunch, and a very comfortable environment that is pet friendly and where you always feel like family! Quality and service is number one here. Peter Pergola has instilled a tremendous presence in North Pinellas that has been a foundation for East Lake’s constant growth,” a happy customer says.

East Lake Café also provides in house catering to private events any evening of the week. Peter will work with you one on one to help you chose a menu that is sure to satisfy up to 70 guests.  In addition to in house catering, East Lake Cafe will gladly deliver to any location upon request.

COVID 19 Update– As of this writing, the café is back to full capacity, sitting approximately 130 customers. Social distancing is still practiced inside, and all kitchen and front service personnel are still required to wear masks. Peter expresses that they are in the same category as most businesses, in not being able to acquire staff. Their core loyal staff are supportive and filling in the blanks with many hours and overtime pay. “God Bless them and their Families, they all are the best”, exclaimed Peter. His policy has always been that people who show virus-like symptoms should stay home and be mindful of others. Customer safety and satisfaction are of utmost importance for everyone at this neighborhood gem. Peter along with the staff at East Lake Cafe are still taking extra precautions to ensure the restaurant is entirely safe and immaculately clean for every customer that walks through the doors.

“On August 11, 2020 East Lake Café was awarded the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association Seal of Commitment” showing that the restaurant “achieved enhanced safety of guests and employees.” The Café ensures that the restaurant is sanitary and safe for anyone who walks through the doors. 

““At East Lake Café, we’ve always held ourselves to high standards of cleanliness and safety, and this award validates our efforts. We’re thankful to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association for making this course available during this challenging time,” said Peter Pergola.

Since opening, East Lake Café has worked and supported local and surrounding area schools to cater to “Back-to-School,” End of Year, Teacher Appreciation, and other events to celebrate the dedicated teachers and the hard-working staff of our community. They donate and proudly send support each month to FEAST, Metropolitan Ministries, Samaritan’s Purse, 40 Days for Life, Tunnel to Tower’s and to local churches and fundraisers, to help feed the poor and hungry, and save babies lives. East Lake Café also received an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and is a part of the Florida Restaurant Association and the Palm Harbor Chamber of Commerce in order to ensure safety in the workplace. 

“We are getting a great response from our regulars and new visitors! We are delighted that at this time we are preforming better in overall customer counts and sales than the years past, pre-COVID. Since we are challenged in many ways due to COVID, I ask that

customers be patient and understanding. I insist on not compromising quality and food presentation. We need to acquire more staff, which is in short supply. We want to ensure that all safety methods and guidelines are being followed to keep everyone safe”, Peter said. 

The restaurant is currently operating under their normal business hours. They are open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. Stop in today to experience the fantastic food that has been a favorite and loved by the East Lake community since 2003. 

The East Lake Café is located at 3430 East Lake Rd, Suite #3, in Palm Harbor. For more information, call 727-772-0707 or visit online at EastLakeCafé.com for events, menus, and specials.