Early to Rise
Sunrise Cafe Nears 17 Years of Providing Top-Notch Breakfast & a Family Atmosphere
Photographer: Brian Brosmer
Most mornings Horsfield, the owner of Sunrise Cafe in Fishers, climbs out of bed around 3 am, showers, gets dressed and arrives at the restaurant between 3:30 and 4 in the morning. That is when his day truly starts.
Among his long list of to-dos before the restaurant even opens at 6 a.m. are making Sunrise’s breads, biscuits, gravy, jams and jellies, dressings, slicing up fresh fruit and much more.
“Everyone is tired in the mornings,” Horsfield says. “No matter how early it is. The difference is when I physically unlock the front door and walk into this place my adrenaline goes up ten-fold. There are about 500 things I need to do when I get here. A lot of the work goes in way before the customers get here. That challenge drives the passion. People expect top-notch service. So, I want to go out of my way, with a smile on my face, to make it worth their while because I want them to come back.”
Before he and his brother Jim opened the first Sunrise Cafe off Keystone in 1985, Horsfield had never cooked an egg a day of his life. Now, he estimates that he’s cooked nearly six million eggs throughout the last 34 years — most of them, he says, two at a time and around 270 dozen eggs a week.
“Now we have some help, especially doing omelets nowadays,” he says. “But I cook most of those. In one sense, it is just eggs, right? But on the other hand, nobody likes them unless they are done right. Everyone likes their eggs a certain way. I take pride in that.”
In 2002, Horsfield left the home nest off Keystone and opened the Fishers Sunrise Cafe location. Several factors, he says, went into that decision.
“Fishers was the up and coming destination,” he says. “Even then, you had many new families moving in. We just wanted to grab onto that and build it from there. We knew we could do it, but you never know for sure how it is going to go when you open a new spot.”
More than anything, the Horsfields credit the community response over the years and the faithful customers that come in week after week, citing a family atmosphere at the restaurant.
“The community response has been great,” says Scott’s wife, Jenny. “Our customers are like family because they all know each other from being in here so often. They are like family to us, too. We’ve watched kids grow up over the years and now their kids are in here working.”
When you walk into Sunrise Cafe, there is a good chance, at some point, you will be greeted by those kids — a teenager or young adult. That is by design. While there are several adult cooks, waiters and waitresses and managers that have been with Horsfield for a long time, a good chunk of the staff is young adults in high school or college.
On the practical side of a small, family-owned business, hiring high school or college-aged students meant saving money. After all, not everyone can be full-time. But the Horsfields, having kids of their own, always wanted to mentor youth and provide an opportunity for them to learn a strong work ethic and grow into what was most likely their first real job at the restaurant.
“The biggest turnover on our staff is the high schoolers, but I always tell them that they have a job for life if they want it,” Scott says. “The better ones bring over other better ones. The parents might want it to be the first job for their kid too. The younger the better. If they start when they are freshmen or sophomores, then they’ve worked their way up more by the time they are seniors. But they get in here and they see what it takes. It is a huge experience for them.”
With so many new restaurants popping up in Fishers, Sunrise Cafe remains a local favorite not only because of the family, community feel but because of the food as well. For those who have been, fast, quality service and a delicious meal are expected.
The menu includes traditional breakfast combinations and specialties like Eggs Benedict, the Breakfast Quesadilla and the Quiche of the Day as well as favorites like the Biscuits and Gravy, French Melt and French Toast. Over the years, Sunrise has also added breakfast bowls and “Create your Own Omelets” options.
A lunch menu is also offered.
“There is no fluff to our menu,” Jenny adds. “It is what you would cook at home in your own kitchen. You don’t have to search through our menu to find what you want. There are no glorified items, and everything is fresh.”
Part of the fun, Scott says, is getting to know the regulars and their favorites.
“Jenny probably knows a large percentage of everyone’s name that comes in, and I could probably tell you what they are going to order before they do,” he says. “Certain people order the same thing every time they come, others come every day and switch it up. Everyone has their favorites.”
After 17 years in the Fishers location, Horsfield is still very much passionate about the restaurant. The drive to wake up those early mornings and get behind the grill has not diminished for the owner.
“I’ve always enjoyed the cooking part,” he says. “I would have a tough time walking around out here in a tie or something. When you are at your busiest, that is when you are tested. Part of it is how I was brought up, too. I want to take care of people and have their day be better for it. It is my way of serving the community.”
As for the success they’ve experienced, he says there really isn’t a big secret to that.
“The secret is just hard work,” he says. “Some people call us old, I call us old school. We are fortunate to have a hard-working staff as well. You lead by example, that is what we try to do. When we reflect on the last 17 years here, it is pretty cool. But that doesn’t make tomorrow any easier. So you have to be fired up and ready to go each day.”
“We just want to thank the community and their families, too,” Jenny adds. “They are so important to us and have been great supporters of us over the years. We can’t thank them enough.”
Sunrise Cafe is located at 9767 E 116th St in Fishers. You can give them a call at 317-842-5414 or visit them online at sunrisecafefishersin.com for more information.