When Walt and Jeannine Davis of Tempe head out for a special date-night dinner, they forgo the oft-ubiquitous couple’s parry: “I don’t know, where do you want to go?”
Caffe Boa, which has been at the same East Elliot Road location for 22 years, is their favorite – and, they say, it has been for “well over 20 years.”
The family-owned and -run restaurant is the oldest, continually operated restaurant in Ahwatukee, a record of which owners Scott and Linda Rennard are understandably proud.
“We have been most fortunate,” Scott Rennard said. “Caffe Boa opened in 1995, and we’ve seen many restaurants come and go in the Ahwatukee area We know first-hand how hard it can be with constant increases in labor costs, food costs, health insurance, higher rents, taxes, all of that.
“You really just want to serve great food and not deal with any of that. It can really wear someone down if they’re not prepared for it.”
At one point, the family operated several Caffe Boa locations – one in Scottsdale that was sold in 1999, and another in Tempe that retained the name but is no longer affiliated with Rennard.
Earlier this month, Rennard launched a new attraction: a Saturday and Sunday brunch.
“We have in years past been open on Saturdays and Sundays but didn’t offer any brunch menu, so this is a new adventure for us,” said Rennard, adding that the regular menu will be available as well.
The brunch begins at 10:30 a.m. and includes crepes, eggs Benedict, pancakes and other typical brunch offerings. Bottomless mimosas ($15.99) made with fresh-squeezed orange juice, and bloody marys ($5) augment the brunch.
Rennard already is anticipating cooler weather, when brunch patrons can sit on the large side patio that contains a fireplace he built.
October also brings a special event, one that has become enough of a Caffe Boa tradition that reservations are being made more than a month in advance.
“Every year, we put together our Annual Halloween Wine Dinner, which we find is just a fun way to kick off the wonderful holiday season. Everyone loves Halloween, and it’s a great time to be in Phoenix. It’s what we suffer through summer for,” he laughed, adding:
“Costumes aren’t necessary, but our staff will be in costume. We typically have an elegant three-course dinner paired with wines. One year, we did Vampire wines, another Ghost Pines.”
This year’s Halloween Wine Dinner is Friday, Oct. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The $58.95 cost includes all food and wines, and live music entertainment.
“It’s always a ‘spooktacular’ time,” he said.
The floor-to-ceiling solid mahogany wine rack was custom made and installed in 1997.
“We’ve stocked thousands of cases of wine in it over the years,” said Rennard, admiring the case that was moved to the front of the dining room 10 years ago. “It was built to last, and can hold about 25 cases of wine at a time as well as liquor and spirits.”
For Walt and Jeannine Davis, the food at Caffe Boa has kept them driving from Tempe to Ahwatukee, but it is the ambience and well-trained servers as well.
“We’ve never had a bad or even marginal meal at Caffe Boa. Scott is usually on site to make certain everything runs smoothly, making the rounds to have a short chat with each table which is not done in the chain restaurants,” Walt Davis said.
“The servers are extremely well trained and very professional even though many are students,” he added.
Favorites of the Davis’ include salmon, tenderloin tips, any ravioli of the day and a special request of theirs: salmon Caesar salad.
And then there are homemade desserts, the most popular being the house signature dessert, Boa Buttercake.
“Boa Buttercake derives from my childhood growing up in St. Louis, Missouri,” Rennard said.
“Buttercake is a St. Louis traditional dessert, and there are different versions of it, but ours is our own special recipe and has been a big hit,” he added.
For the Davises, Caffe Boa is the restaurant they return to again and again.
“Jeannine and I travel extensively, but we always enjoy coming back for a comfortable and warm atmosphere at Boa, along with a very good meal, and a nice drink or a glass of wine,” Walt Davis said.
Caffe Boa is at 5063 E. Elliot Road in the southwest corner of Ahwatukee Plaza. Reservations: 480-893-3331.
Happy Hour at Caffe Boa is Monday through Friday from 4 to 6:30 p.m. with drink specials and half-price appetizers.