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By Eric Heinz

A staple of San Clemente for a quarter of a century, Antoine’s Café continues to serve customers old and new.

Veronique Price, owner of Antoine’s Cafe, came upon the location after seeing an advertisement for small business properties.

“I was looking for a small business, and we were living in Anaheim at the time,” Price said. “I remember seeing an advertisement for the location. A small Greek guy was selling businesses in town, and I figured there was a lot of potential for it. It is cute, small and everything I always wanted.”

After all the years she’s been in the restaurant business, Price said she still loves what she does.

“You can make people happy every day,” Price said. “You know (the customer’s) name. You know what they like and what they drink. Most people come three or four times a week. It’s almost like a second extension of your home.”

Price said she’s always enjoyed the intimacy of small business personnel. Over the years, she said it’s become easier to fix things and add amenities to the café. It’s part of her dedication to keep getting better at what she does. She said people will notice the subtleties in what they order.

“I always thought that one day I would live here,” Price said. “I always see people who leave San Clemente, but they always come back.”

Price uses a specific coffee roaster in Huntington Beach for 25 years. She said the coffee is one of the major components to her clientele. For breakfast and lunch, the menu items are always changing with mostly well-known American dishes.

“I’m always thinking about what I can do better, what can I fix,” she said. “I’ve been pretty lucky; I’ve had a lot of the same staff for many years. Most people have been here a long time. Some of the waitresses have been here 10, 12 years. You just have a good group of people who keep working.”

Price said she has seen San Clemente change over the years. She said the area has gone from a sleepy beach city to a bustling vacation hub.

“The people here are super nice and enjoy the small-town atmosphere,” Price said.

Once a year, students of San Clemente High School’s French classes come by to order breakfast in Price’s native language.

“Their French is really good; the seniors’ is very good. I was impressed,” Price said.

During the month of June, Antoine’s will offer gift cards to celebrate the 25th year.

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