Jake’s is probably the best kept secret from travelers on Highway 99 when they are hoping for a short but relaxing break from the monotony of the roadway where they can enjoy the best in sandwiches, coffee, tea and conversation.
Whether customers sit inside at the tables or outside they will always find Riponites willing to chat about everything from the time of day to the politics of the small community on the Stanislaus River where rafting is a weekend event.
One customer blogged recently that Jake’s is “about $1.50 cheaper than Starbucks and just as good, if not better.” He added that the breakfast wrap is awesome and cited the bar-like seating inside to the outdoors tables as well as their comfy couches and chairs.
Another was quoted as saying, “Jake’s coffees are really good, the sandwiches are good, the coffee cake is AWESOME as are the gourmet Casper hot dogs.”
The coffee and sandwich shop anchors the corner of the ACE Hardware store center at Wilma Avenue and Main Street and is less than a mile away from both northbound and southbound Highway 99.
From the northbound lanes take the Milgeo Road off ramp and circle back over the freeway just past Ripon City Hall and it is on the left beyond the police department. From the southbound lanes motorists should exit at Jack Tone Road, travel south to Main Street, and east to Wilma Avenue.
Jake Parks and his mother Donna have had a special bond in launching the small but busy coffee shop and cafe. Donna who doubles as a school board chairman and mortgage loan officer worked every Saturday and in the evenings to help her son get started during their first year.
They were five months preparing to open the shop after Starbucks had closed on July 31 some four years ago. They opened on December 15 to an enthusiastic Ripon crowd of followers that has expanded to freeway travelers.
Parks with a bachelor’s degree credits his mother in teaching him how to run a business while staying calm. She urged him to keep his eyes on the “numbers” while continually analyzing the operation and conducting trend analyses.
“The biggest thing,” Jake quipped, “was not being afraid to try something new – things that are all different.” He added that everything in the café is freshly made for their clientele.
His mother agreed they had weathered the toughest part of the recessionary storm that made opening any business very difficult.
“Everybody buckled down. You had to become very conservative and you had to be forward thinking,” she noted. “Your customers will tell you what they want.” For many years the Parks family operated the Chevron station and convenience store next to the northbound on ramp to Highway 99 from East Main Street.
The instant customer favorite at the café is the “Breakfast Wrap” that includes bacon, eggs and a cheese formula that makes the eggs light and fluffy, Jake said, adding avocado and spinach with potatoes in the winter can even make it better.
“Our salads and wraps are all based on health concerns and they are figure-friendly,” he chimed. “Our herbs are grown right here in the café.”
The venue has become a repeat location for Bible studies, business meetings. A lot of moms introduce their children into an environment where kids can go and be like kids, he added.
Jake’s also caters to many corporate digs in the community and services working professionals and both Ripon Unified School District as well as the Ripon Christian Schools.