CLYDE — Creating a café that would be at home in this Wayne County downtown was an admittedly audacious idea for Buck and Mary Lainhart.
Clyde, a village in transition, is not like East or Park avenues in Rochester, after all.
However, a little more than a year after opening, Kee Kee Run Café is a success, thanks in part to the Lainharts’ willingness to adapt and change.
A big change came late last year when the Lainharts obtained their tavern license, which allowed them to add wine, beer and ciders — nearly all of them local — to a beverage menu heavy on gourmet coffees and teas.
“We’d been thinking about it since the doors were opened,” said Mary, noting the business got its temporary tavern license in November.
The café now features domestic beers and craft varieties that include War Horse from Three Brothers in Fayette; Rohrbach from Rochester; Big Ditch Brewing from Buffalo; and a vanilla porter from a not-so-local brewer, Breckenridge out of Colorado. Finger Lakes wineries featured at Kee Kee Run include Montezuma, Three Brothers and Idol Ridge. The latter winery features a white wine, Buck & Bear White, Mary said she just had to add to the list. Bear is her nickname, she noted.
Adding adult beverages doesn’t change the café’s approach, Buck cautioned.
“We don’t want to become a bar,” he said.
“It’s always going to be a family place,” Mary stressed.
The decision to add beer, wine and cider is part of their strategy to give their customers — and potential patrons — what they desire.
“We listen to what people want and we adapt,” Mary said.
That includes changing its coffees from an outfit in Ithaca to Imprint Coffee in Sodus.
“We switched over, and the response has been phenomenal,” Mary said. “Now we have more customers coming in for it.”
On that need to adapt and change, Kee Kee Run has modified its hours. It’s no longer a seven-days-a-week operation; instead, it has moved to a Tuesday-to-Saturday schedule. Sundays and Mondays can be reserved for private parties, the Lainharts noted.
“Then we can use the whole place,” Buck said. “We don’t have to put them in the back room.”
With the next-door fitness center now in a larger space down Glasgow Street, the Lainharts are planning to create an indoor cornhole room next door that they believe will be a draw. They also work with local groups to fill Kee Kee Run’s spacious dining area, including painting parties and other gatherings, some related to Montezuma Audubon Center events at the wildlife refuge.
The change continues in the types of foods Kee Kee Run offers: Mary and Buck noting that many specials are now part of the all-day menu. You won’t find cheeseburgers at Kee Kee Run, but you will find paninis, wraps, sandwiches, salads and more.
Those with a sweet tooth will find a variety of gourmet cupcakes, mini-pies and cheesecakes, and more. All the baked goods are made in-house and from scratch. Mary’s sister, Cheryl Willoughby, helps with the baking, including the pies.
Besides food and beverages, Kee Kee Run also sells products from local vendors that include anything from honey and maple syrup to jewelry and skin-care products.
While launching a new restaurant in downtown Clyde has been a challenge, Buck and Mary said the locals have played a key role in Kee Kee Run’s first-year success.
“The community has really come together and supported us,” Buck said.
The goal, Mary outlined, is to provide a great customer experience every time — and if people aren’t satisfied, they want to know.
“You always have to make a good impression,” she said. “You always have to be on your game.”