After brief negotiations, he ended up
purchasing the space and gave it a makeover, adding a touch of the
Fayetteville old to the Manlius new. In May, after only three years of
business in Fayetteville, he served up his own sequel with the opening
of a second Walter’s Café.
Walter Babla: Owner of Walter's Cafe welcomes all to dine at the new Manlius location.
“This expansion was mostly determined by
people in the Manlius area,” says Babla. “Our thing has always been to
please the customers at any cost, and a lot of regulars with children
didn’t want to travel and some didn’t have the time to travel to
Fayetteville. So they kept asking us, and we did it for them.”
The Manlius menu carries over virtually
everything from the Fayetteville location, but Babla decided to include
several new courses. What made Walter’s Café stick out from the average
“neighborhood diner” was their not-so-average American-Joe menu. After
the breakfast hours, 24 different sandwiches, wraps and oven-baked
paninis become available, priced at $6.25 each.
The Turkey Cuban Panini, cushioned
together with smoked turkey, prosciutto, sliced pickles, Swiss cheese
and Russian dressing, has gone over so well, Fidel might have
considered lifting the embargo just to get his hands on one. Another
exotic and big fat treat is the Greek Island, rolled in a lemon herb wrap with grilled eggplant, tomato, Kalamata olives and red onions.
In addition to the house pasta
suggestions on the menu, the “create-your-own pasta” option ($5.95)
presents a three-step process. First, choose from a variety of noodles
such as spriali and penne rigate. Next, select from one of their seven
sauces, including alfredo romano and ala vodka. For the final step, add
in whatever other idiosyncratic flavorings quell your hunger libido—and
yes, for those that base their cultural knowhow from episodes of Seinfeld, cucumbers are allowed in Italian fare.
Ten specialty brick-oven thin-crust
pizza pies are smoothed out and tossed in the air—before they go in the
oven, natch—setting you back $4.95 to $6.95. Babla notes that Rustica,
topped with chicken, roasted peppers, broccoli and mozzarella cheese,
has been much in demand. The Margherita is a little more down-home,
with a sprinkling of mozzarella and fresh basil on top of “mama-made”
tomato sauce to keep it real “old country.”
If you march into Walter’s wearing a
flag pin, some good ol’ American courses may intrigue. Their New York
steak ($16.95), topped with chipotle butter and served with oven
potatoes and veggies, will bid a farewell to hunger with the emotion of
a 21-gun salute. Seven different grilled burgers, such as the
chili-dipped El Paso burger and the barbecue sauce-meets-Jack cheese
Texas burger, are available with patty and buns at prices between $5.25
and $6.95, or deluxe with fries for $6.75 and $8.45.
Babla also mentions that he could not
resist making a run for the border. His mix of Southwestern fare
includes sizzling fajitas, beef or chicken chimichangas, enchiladas,
burritos and quesadillas, spanning in price between $6.25 and $11.95.
Ten salads are available, as well as
appetizers such as calamari, chicken fingers and Buffalo wings. Wash
down the chow with one of four all-natural smoothies ($4.95), or
compliment it with several selections of cake, pie or brownie-based
treats from the dessert menu.
“We wanted to offer more than just a
cookie-cutter menu and give people the chance to get good quality food
at reasonable prices,” continues Babla. “We have a lot of families and
people with a wide variety of tastes that come in, and we want to make
them feel as comfortable and relaxing as possible. The more options
they have to choose from, the more they get the sense that this is
about them, not us.”
Walter’s Café and Bistro seats about 120
with a variety of booths and tables able to accommodate large or small
groups. Business hours are Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.,
Sundays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Babla says they are in the process of getting
their liquor license, which could eventually mean a later closing hour
of 2 a.m. on Saturdays. For more information, to order takeout or
inquire about their catering options, call 692-4594.