Originally Published: August 23, 2013 6:02 a.m.
PRESCOTT VALLEY - Former commercial fisherman Mikolaj Bijan and Zita Brink came from small towns in their native Poland and Germany, respectively, and hooked up 20 years ago after meeting in Alaska.
Bijan said he grew up close to the border of the former Soviet Union and did not have electricity until the age of 18.
Brink said, "I was 14 when we got our first TV."
They later moved to Arizona, and decided to go into business together. They left the Phoenix area because of the heat.
Brink said she and Bijan looked at a bed-and-breakfast in Williams but balked at buying it because it lacked adequate parking.
They found out the Lynx Lake Café was for sale 10 years ago, and entered a 20-year lease with the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land. Brink owns the building.
"(On) Monday, we bought it. (On) Tuesday, we said, 'What did we do?'" Brink recalled. However, Brink and Bijan succeeded even though they had no previous restaurant experience.
"We started out with 20 customers a day," Brink said. "Now, we have between 300 to 400 on a good day."
Brink continued, "We used to clean and cook and do everything ourselves. Now, we have three cooks" and six servers.
Brink and Bijan have built up a steady clientele for breakfast, lunch and dinner by serving German food and other entrees, offering lakeside views and access to boat rentals and hiking.
"Many customers come just for the food, the boat rentals and stuff," Brink said. "We get a lot of people from the (nearby) campsite. We have people coming in from Phoenix for our food."
Bijan said, "Sometimes, we have waiting lists. Sometimes, it is very long."
No other restaurants nearby offered European food when they moved here, Brink said.
Brink said she enjoys hanging out with the customers.
"We make everything from scratch," Brink said. "Our sauce is from the same meat, like the pork, the beef."
She said the cooks at Lynx Lake Café also make potato pancakes from potatoes - not a package - and cook meals to order.
They make German pancakes from eggs, flour and milk.
Breakfasts include a selection of omelets, breakfast plates and items from the griddle. Omelets cost $8 and plates range in price from $6 for a biscuit and sausage gravy to $10 for chicken fried steak and schnitzel (a cutlet) with two eggs. Griddle items cost anywhere from $6 for a Belgian waffle and two buttermilk pancakes to $8 for two German or buttermilk pancakes, and three slices of French toast.
Lunches include burgers, sandwiches and salads, and range in price from $4 for a cup of chili, spatzle (a German pasta), and coleslaw or German potato salad to $10 for a bacon cheeseburger, chili burger, Philly beef sandwich and chef salad.
Lynx Lake Café has a variety of dinner entrées, including schnitzel, seafood, pork, beef and specials. Prices range from $13 for a spatzle plate and liver and onions to $19 for a weiner (a hand-pounded veal breaded and fried).
Favorite dishes include schnitzel, German pancakes, German potato salad and spatzle.
The above foods appeal to Americans who served overseas in the military, Brink said.