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Great Food from Scratch Signature of Kiss the Cook

Creamy grilled cheese sandwiches, a signature pancake recipe and proprietors who want to know customers by name are all part of the charm of Kiss the Cook.

Kiss the Cook is not a short-order cook kind of restaurant where catching a quick bite is all you need. Instead, it's a homey, comfortable diner where each dish is prepared from scratch and to order.

The restaurant opened in July at the corner of Taylor and Durand Avenues because the timing, owner and Sturtevant native Kookie Niemiec said, was right.

"My dream was to open a coffee shop with four or five tables," she explained. "But one morning I was taking my grandkids to school and this building had a 'for rent' sign so I thought, 'Well, why not?' I didn't want to say 'shoulda, woulda, coulda' in a few years."

Kiss the Cook is a family affair where the proprietors want every customer to feel like family. Almost every position manned at the restaurant is staffed by a family member from the waitresses to the bus staff and even sometimes the cook.

Niemiec worked and ran food service for years at St. Sebastian's School so she thought she knew what she was doing and would have a pretty good handle on opening her own restaurant.

"This is a whole different world," she chuckled. "At school, it's a controlled environment and you know exactly how much of anything you need. Here, I never know because I don't know what will be a hit with people."

Customer traffic is another variable Niemiec is trying to better understand. Weekdays are hit-or-miss, but weekends are packed, she said. Because all dishes are made from scratch and to order, getting food to tables quickly can be a challenge.

"We know people have a hard time with how long it can take to get their meal so we are working on a more efficient system," Niemiec recognizes. "But, we think the food is so good that people will come in, sit down and feel at home."

All menu items are named for family members' favorite dishes and then given a gourmet spin.

Take the Gaige Grilled Cheese, for example. Gaige is one of Niemiec's grandchildren who happens to love grilled cheese. At Kiss the Cook, diners don't just get a regular grilled cheese, though; this sandwich is made with seven different kinds of cheese.

Other Kiss the Cook signature dishes include Kayla's Cuban and the Crabby Ben Omelet made with crab and lobster, named for Niemiec's recently deceased father.

But Niemiec said folks really should come in for their pancakes.

"I think we have the best pancakes in Racine," she nodded. "New customers get a small sample to hook them in. We are really proud of our pancakes."

The secret is the orange zest, and Niemiec plans to offer special flavors to go with the seasons and special holidays; pumpkin spice for fall and Thanksgiving, egg nog for Christmas, and red velvet for Valentine's Day.

Despite Kiss the Cook being the fifth or sixth restaurant at that location, Niemiec is optimistic.

"I hear all the time from people who say this place used to be this restaurant or that, but you don't know if you'll like us, until you try us," she said. "So, just try us. We're friendly and really good. We do make everything from scratch so there might be little wait, but give us a chance."

Kiss the Cook is located at 2920 Taylor Avenue in Racine. The restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday with a Friday Fish Fry from 5 to 8 p.m. every Friday. Call 262-619-0500.

GearHead November 12, 2012 at 10:44 PM
The food is awesome! Scratch-prepared makes a huge difference. Having had both breakfast and lunch, I'll be back. Thinking the friday pm fish fry is in my future!
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) November 12, 2012 at 11:35 PM
Their grilled cheese is AWWWWEEEESOME!
GearHead November 13, 2012 at 03:03 AM
Seven cheeses? How thick is it? Drooling.... Means real butter too, eh? :-)
Keith R. Deschler November 13, 2012 at 12:28 PM
they do serve some unique and mouth watering dishes. If you want more organic and minimally processed ingredients, this is the place. It does take a while, so allow yourselves some extra time. But the food is definitely a cut above the average coffee shop cafe'.
Kiss The Cook November 16, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Thank you for writing such a complimentary article, Heather! We hope to see you again soon.
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 04:14 AM
@Kiss the Cook - thank you for your time and delicious coffee! I will visit soon ...
Kiss The Cook November 16, 2012 at 04:14 AM
GearHead and Keith, we really appreciate your patronage - Thanks! We hope to continue to improve to meet your expectations!
Heather Asiyanbi (Editor) November 16, 2012 at 04:15 AM
@Gearhead - You have no idea. It's AMAZING - melty, rich, bread is crispy on the outside ... oh, man. Now I'm drooling, too!
Bottom Line April 07, 2013 at 04:45 AM
They started dinner tonight. I had a hand carved Rib eye that was awesome! I also ordered their French Onion soup, best I've had in a long time.
GearHead April 07, 2013 at 12:03 PM
Ribeye? Hearing my inner caveman speak. Grunt! :)
Kiss The Cook April 07, 2013 at 04:22 PM
Thank You again, Heather, for your effort. We started dinner last night. Our dinner menu includes Rib Eye, Filet Mignon, Grilled Chicken Breast, Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Alfredo, Walleye, Gulf Shrimp, Shrimp Scampi, Spaghetti & Meatballs, and more!! Dinner is from 4:00 P.M. - 8:00 P.M. Tonight! We will be serving the dinner menu Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday as well. Firm schedule will be out soon!! If you tell us that Heather sent you, you will receive a 5% discount, tonight only! Thanks Again!
Kiss The Cook April 07, 2013 at 05:57 PM
If you visit our Facebook page we have added a few pictures from last night!
Kiss The Cook April 10, 2013 at 04:18 AM
Dinner will be served from 4-8 P.M. Wednesday night ... We hope to see you there!
Urban Pioneer April 10, 2013 at 07:39 PM
Can't wait to try out the Dinner menu. Love the breakfast menu. More success in 2013!
Kiss The Cook April 11, 2013 at 05:18 AM
Thanks Urban Pioneer! I hope you enjoy the dinner as well. We will be offering a 5% discount to those Patch readers that stop in Thursday night to enjoy our dinner menu from 4-8 P.M. to show our appreciation for all the Patch has done for us ... see you there!

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