Single out that cinnamon roll aroma and it will lead you to a covered cake plate filled with soft and glazed yummies. Check out the buttery pancakes or French toast, Eggs Benedict, and their Chef's Surprise - potatoes smothered with scrambled eggs, diced ham, bacon and onion, topped with cheese. And don't overlook the fruit pies in the see-through chiller.
Owned and operated by Murray Sexton and his wife, Heather, with a staff of 15, Bridgehead Cafe boasts almost 20 years of service here in its East 18th location, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. Even daughter Emily, 7, likes to refill the sugar and cream plates. She also likes to set the tables.
"Our clientele goes on three or four generations," says Murray. "My dad opened the cafe in 1976 by Highway 4, and then opened here in 1986. Many of the original clients still come here. We're very diverse. I've watched some kids grow up and get married and bring their families here."
Murray knows almost everyone by name. He calls in some orders and brings them to the customers, always making sure to chat a bit. He knows that this couple is taking a trip. He also found out that the other lady was recently diagnosed with leukemia.
"I have a friend who works with special-needs children and she brings them here sometimes," says Murray, emphasizing that everyone has a right to eat and be served at Bridgehead. "We've delivered food to those who are ill or can't cook. We try to stay family-oriented, make everyone feel at home and comfortable with our down-home cooking."
It's smart to show up at Bridgehead early on the weekends, when lines can be long. Customers from Concord, Rio Vista, Walnut Creek, Clayton - even San Francisco boaters exploring the Delta - stop by for Bridgehead's special Fried Chicken with Country Gravy and Chicken Fried Steak.
For lunch, the cafe offers a wide selection of sandwiches and hefty burger creations.
Dinner specials include Liver and Onions or a Fish, Shrimp and Clam buffet for $8.99 on Wednesday nights; Spaghetti, Ravioli and Veal or Chicken Parmesan for $8.99 on Thursdays; All You Can Eat Fish or Clams on Fridays; and All You Can Eat Fried Chicken on Saturdays and Sundays for $10.99.
Devoted customer Ollie Young, 82, from Antioch is the most regular of regulars at Bridgehead. He comes with his dog Lucky every single day for breakfast. Lucky gets his chopped sausages, dubbed the Lucky Burger, for breakfast.
"I've been coming to this area even before the cafe was here," says Young. "This used to be a hardware store, and before that, a furniture store. I like being out here in front (to get some sun). There are pretty good people here. It's a friendly place."
Another regular customer, Trina Smith from Antioch, has been coming to Bridgehead for about seven years. "The Liver and Onions are the best here," she says. "I also like the clams. And their biscuits and gravy are authentic."
Izona and Tony Ratkovec drive eight miles out from Oakley every day for breakfast.
"We've been coming here before I got wrinkles - about 20 years," says Izona. "They have delicious food and we like Murray. The people are really nice."
Lusanne Bough has worked at Bridgehead Cafe for seven years now. "The best part about my job is Murray," she says. "I've known him since he was 16. My girlfriend used to work here with Murray's dad. Murray is supportive of the staff. He helps us out; he doesn't leave us. When we have family problems, he works them out with us. We had a regular customer that passed away and we did a food service for him. We ask what people need. We've set up cancer jars for those who fell ill."
In addition, Bridgehead Cafe honors those who are serving our country with a special wall dedicated to them.
Bridgehead Cafe, located at 2415 E. 18th St. at Vierra Lane in Antioch, is open Mondays and Tuesdays from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. and from Wednesdays through Sundays from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Bridgehead's phone number is 757-4774.