Red Basket Cafe Opens

Fresh ingredients fixed with devotion is the mission at the month-old Red Basket Cafe on 4705 Central Ave. Pike, across the street from Sugarbakers. The most popular items so far: Philly Chicken and Cheese and beer-battered onion rings. Owner Julie Sakhleh says she spent almost two months noodling with the onion ring recipe, settling on a batter made with the King of Beers and a breading she won't divulge. She has no prior restaurant experience except for a few short waitressing stints back in the day, but says she felt like locals were clamoring for another alternative to drive-thrus and processed foods. "And I like being my own boss, making my own decisions," says Sakhleh.

Hot dogs, brats, chicken salad, shakes, and such are also on the menu, along with finger baskets—one of them pork tenders. The serving baskets are indeed red, along with the counters and some of the decor at the squeaky-clean restaurant, about the size of a one-bedroom house. And Sakhleh sometimes wears a red shirt to work. Her favorite color, though, is purple. "They say that the color red makes people feel like eating!" she explains. The cafe is open 10 a.m.-3 p.m., and can be reached by telephone at 357-8855.