In the battle for breakfast supremacy in San Clemente, the Price family has had the market cornered.
On one side of San Clemente’s downtown corridor, the family has the widely popular breakfast and corner coffee shop Antoine’s Café, which Veronique and Antoine Price have owned and operated for about the past 32 years.
And down Avenida Del Mar, just before getting to the beach, the Prices have Café Mimosa, a trendy, upscale brunch dining experience that they’ve entrusted to their son, Antoine Price Jr., to operate.
Together, Antoine’s and Mimosa have dominated the local breakfast scene, as evidenced by the overwhelming support from San Clemente Times readers who continually vote for them as the Best Breakfast and Best Brunch spots, respectively.
So, what do you do when your businesses have reigned supreme in the local breakfast and brunch scene? Well, you essentially compete against yourself, or in Veronique and Antoine Jr.’s case, you enjoy a bit of family competition.
“There’s always family competition,” Antoine Jr. says. “That’s definitely always going to be there, will always be there.”
In terms of strictly Best Breakfast, Antoine’s Café has got the category all locked up, winning a total of 17 overall medals—16 of which have been consecutive Golden Oles. S.C. Café has earned nine Silver Oles, including for 2022, while Mimosa has won three.
As for the Best Brunch category, that’s when the family competition heats up a bit.
Since SC Times added Best Brunch spot as an option to vote for in 2019, Café Mimosa has been the business that’s shined, earning three consecutive Golden Oles. This year, however, Antoine’s unseated Mimosa, adding another Golden Ole to Veronique’s record-year collection of six overall medals.
As Antoine Jr. sees it, though, the two popular eateries have their own menu items and serving style, as well as their own overall aesthetic, ambience and atmosphere.
“I definitely wanted to make a stance of we are two different restaurants,” he notes, before adding that while companies like Starbucks have found success with placing multiple shops near each other, “you can’t put one (restaurant) on one corner and one on the other and expect for both places to actually make money.”
The opportunity to purchase the property where Mimosa sits came up about 17 years ago, Antoine Jr. says. The restaurant, situated across from San Clemente’s public library, was essentially built from the ground up.
“We had to put our touch to it, which is that French Provence look,” he says. “If you blindfold somebody and take them to Mimosa, unblind fold them, they wouldn’t know where they’re at. You got that beautiful park out front. It’s one of those properties that nobody has.”
Antoine Jr. admits that it was quite the transition from opening Mimosa to gaining a following of customers. At the time the restaurant opened, there weren’t many other businesses past BeachFire on Avenida Del Mar.
“That was the last place, so you put Mimosa down the corner of the street even farther, nobody followed us down there; like it was, everybody stopped at BeachFire and turned around and just came back up the street,” Antoine Jr. recalls.
Eventually, other restaurants, including Nick’s—another local favorite—popped up, bringing more exposure to the businesses on that end of Del Mar.
“Bring Nick’s on, bring everybody in town, because guess what, the more people, the more restaurants that we have in town, we all survive,” he says. “We all do better … we got options now. I love it.”
With Mimosa serving as another option in town, Veronique notes that the two restaurants don’t exactly share the same clientele.
“Actually, most people—I say most people, not everybody—but most people, if they like Mimosa and they come here, because they found out we’re related, they don’t like it,” she says. “They’re like, ‘Oh, it’s not upscale enough.’ It’s not what they were looking for. They wanted something different.”
Comparing the two restaurants, Veronique describes Mimosa as a French bistro that’s “trendier” with a mellow feel—as though customers are experiencing a mini vacation while they enjoy a glass of wine or mimosa at brunch.
“Here is more like your friend’s kitchen and you know everybody,” she says of Antoine’s. “It’s loud, it’s fast; boom, boom, you know? It’s different.”
Echoing that thought, Antoine Jr. stresses that “they are two different entities, and we want to keep them completely separate. But at the same time, understand that we are family.”
“This is family-oriented. This has been a staple in town,” Antoine Jr. says of Antoine’s, adding that during his time growing up in the family business, “I’ve even served families that I saw on dates, I saw them getting married, I saw them have babies … it’s a beautiful thing to me.”
Regardless of the differences between the two restaurants, and the underlying competition between mother and son, Antoine Jr. says, “At the end of the day, it’s a family affair.”
Discussion about this post