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Kaisy's makes a royal - and very popular - mess in Lewes

April 17, 2017

So the story goes something like this: Back in the 19th century, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife were hiking the nooks and crannies of the Tyrolean Mountains. Tyrol is part of the European Alps and used to belong to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It now flanks Austria and Italy.

Having left the limo far behind, they found themselves growing a bit peckish. Apparently online pizza delivery had yet to be perfected, so in an attempt to score a nosh or two, they knocked on the door of a farmhouse. This is the point where the story could go in several possible directions, but I am marshalling all my self-control to stick to the intended outcome. 

The farmer was taken aback! There was the Emperor - indeed, the Kaiser who oversaw all the land - standing on his doorstep asking for lunch. In his haste to please his monarch, he rushed to the kitchen to whomp something up that would be worthy of royalty. But alas, he was but a poor farmer, and there was very little in the cupboard. He did have some milk, a bit of flour, a little sugar, a few pitiful raisins, the tiniest nip of rum, a pat or two of butter and perhaps an egg, so he decided to make a nice warm pancake for the Emperor and wife. In his haste, however, the pancake broke into pieces – making a mess, truth be told. 

But that was all the poor farmer had, so he presented the fragmented flapjack to his highness, saying, with bowed head, “Please accept this humble, yet thoroughly shattered pancake. I am sorry, but it is quite the mess.” (History is not entirely forthcoming regarding the exact words.) 

The king and his spouse were flattered, and gobbled up the farmer’s shredded pancake like there was no tomorrow. And they loved it. “This is delightful,” cooed the Kaiser, “and royally delicious! Indeed, it is certainly a mess, but it is the Kaiser’s mess!” And at that moment, one of Austria’s favorite pastries was born: The Kaiserschmarrn, aka The Kaiser’s Mess. 

The Cape Region would still be in the dark about this fluffy confection were it not for French immigrants Thierry (pronounced “Terry”) and Nathalie Langer and their three children. A few years ago, they fulfilled their longtime dream of migrating to the United States, anxious to spread far and wide the word of the kaiserschmarrn. After checking out Vermont and Cape Cod, they decided (and rightfully so!) that Lewes was the best place to live. And better yet, Rehoboth Beach would be a great place to open a Kaiserschmarrnerie. And at that moment, one of Rehoboth’s favorite sweet spots, Kaisy’s Delights, was born. And not unlike Grotto Pizza’s Dominic Pulieri, who over 50 years ago stood on the sidewalk handing out pieces of a strange, flat, yet cheesy pie, Thierry and his employees stood on The Avenue giving out little squares of the celebrated hotcake of their homeland. And the people came. And they loved it. 

They loved it so much, in fact, that just last weekend, Thierry, Nathalie, kids and crew opened their second and even larger Kaisy’s Delights in Lewes. Not only is the Kaisy (shorthand for the Kaiserschmarrn) at the top of their menu, but they also feature La Colombe coffee; potato latkes with caramelized onions, homemade apple sauce and sour cream; a flourless goulash and lots of house-made compotes to top the Kaisys. They couldn’t be more centrally located, in the Lewes triangle bounded by Savannah, Wescoats and Clay roads - where Windsor’s Florist was for so many years. 

When he decided to add a drive-through, little did Thierry know that the Starbucks north of Route 24 would move even farther south in order to add a drive-through. So even though Kaisy’s has only been open a week or two, they are already getting a busy morning crowd intent on kicking off the day with a warm cuppa joe and perhaps a drive-through Kaisy - without having to brave Coastal Highway. 

I was honored to be invited to broadcast my radio show live from Kaisy’s last Saturday afternoon. (I ate too much. We all ate too much.) Residents and visitors in Lewes now have a drive-through that not only serves great coffee, but also that light, fluffy pastry, breakfast sandwiches and other snacks. Kaisy’s opens at 6 a.m. every day. You can even top your Kaisy with sausage, bacon, ice cream, plum compote and lots of other good stuff. 

Drop in to the new Kaisy’s Delights in Lewes. Thierry loves to talk about the history of the Kaisy and of his hardworking family. At one point during our broadcast, he leaned into the microphone and intoned, “God bless America!” He made it abundantly clear how much he loves living here in this country, and how proud he is to employ many of the young locals in his upbeat shops.

  • So many restaurants, so little time! Food writer Bob Yesbek gives readers a sneak peek behind the scenes, exposing the inner workings of the local culinary industry, from the farm to the table and everything in between. He can be reached at byesbek@capegazette.com.

    Masthead photo by Grant Gursky. Used with permission from Coastal Style Magazine.

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