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Skeeter's Big Biscuits

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  • cindycat Sep 2, 2004 10:19 AM
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Forgive me if this is slightly off-topic. I'm looking for info on a restaurant that probably isn't there anymore. I'm working on a museum research project and would like to find out about Skeeter's Big Biscuits, in Gainesville, Orlando and maybe other locations. I've heard the biscuits were big as a dinner plate. Can you tell me for sure if they're in business or not, any history and what may have happened to them?

Just discovered you Chowhounds last night and I can see that I'll be visiting you a lot when we're planning vacations.

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  1. This one is interesting. Skeeters is long gone. The one on 13th Street and just north of 23 Avenue burned under very suspicious circumstances. Skeeter, himself, is dead. His partner opened the infamous Cafe Risque on I-75 at the Micanopy exit (and also one at Warner Robbins, GA)where "We Dare to Bare" is the motto. Popular with truck drivers and frat boys from UF. I'm sure the food is a big draw. Skeeters was always gross- pretty much a place where you could eat at 3 in the morning after having drunk too much, listen to a bad musician and barf in the parking lot.
    A Books-A-Million is in that location now.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Janet

      Wow. Skeeter's is gone? I heaven't been to Gainesville or my alma mater for some time, and last time I was there I certainly didn't think to visit Skeeter's. But I did assume that a place like that, an institution really, would remain forever. I remember a time when cars all around Florida had the bumper sticker "I EAT SKEETER'S BIG BISCUITS."

      The single oddest thing about Skeeter's had to be the Chinese side of the menu. Country Kookin' and Chinese. Anyone recall the offensive Chinese charicature, pie-faced with a round cap, described on the menu as "Skeeter's Chinese cousin"?

      I remember many a post-carousing Skeeter's stop for one of those big, nasty plates with ten different things, hash browns, eggs, sausage, cheese, gravy, all dumped together. A highlight of my Skeeter's tenure was being kicked out with a group of freinds -- after eating but before paying. What more could a poor drunk kid ask for?

      Anyway, my best Skeeter's story involves Indiana, not Florida. After graduating from UF in '91, I came up to the University of Chicago for grad school and my best friend attended Notre Dame. One winter day we made a "road trip" from South Bend to Indianapolis. On the drive south, we passed a Skeeter's near West Lafayette (home of Purdue). Same spelling, same graphics(bad charicatures of hillbillies/crackers), same "big biscuits." The difference? Instead of Country Cooking and Chinese, the Midwestern Skeeter's featured Country Cooking and Hungarian food. Hungarian? There are maybe a couple of Hungarian places in all Chicago and likely none in Indiana -- unless the Indiana Skeeter's is still around.

      Please look into this little known Skeeter's cousin as you conduct your important research, and do report back.

      1. re: JeffB

        i grew up in daytona bch,FL where my mom was a skeeters waitress and my daddys band "The Countrymen"played at skeeters nearly every night. I remember doing my homework at a corner booth and having great food at the same time.now some years later and no skeeters to be found,my mother and i are trying to remember their ad slogan.if anyone can help i would so appreciate it!!send me an e-mail,let me know.thanks so much!
        alice in daytona

        p.s. i still cook asher specials at home for the family...good eats!!!!

        1. re: alice

          I stumbled on this thread yesterday, some years late it seems. My brother gave me se of his old t shirts for my daughter and she was wearing a "skeeter's big biscuits" shirt yesterday. I'd seen that shirt on my brother forever, but fit some reason googled it. The slogan at the back says "eat at skeeter's. he needs the money".
          It's great to hear the fond memories of this place since I was too young to remember it and wondered if the shirt was advertising something I didn't want on my toddler.

          1. re: Bennettfly

            Just like my daughter sported a T shirt that had "Harry, it Sucks" on the back. Day care was not amused.

            Having your daughter endorse an iconic college pig out hangover remedy establishment just lends you creds, in my opinion.

            And I thought they were great breakfasts.

    2. That brings back memories. I lived in Gainesville when Skeeters opened in the late 60's. I remember splurging for breakfast "out" - I was working and supporting a student husband. The pancakes were each as big as a platter - nothing special now, but back then oversized portions of food ( The Cheesecake Factory today comes to mind) were uncommon and we felt like we were getting our money's worth.

      1. There used to be a Skeeter's branch in Orlando on SOBT (south orange blosom trail). Sounds exactly the same as the one people have described in G'ville. The biscuits were big, but I don't remember them being as big as a dinner plate. Maybe I wasn't drunk enough, though the only time I went was late night/early morning weekends. Anyone know if it's still there? This was 20 years ago.

        1. Anybody remember the Hasher Special? Served at Skeeters a late night breakfast special. It was the best.

          Perfect day in G-ville? Lunch at Mama-Lo's, a Gator Victory and late night breakfast at Skeeters.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Charley Pell

            Was that thing called the Hasher or the Asher? My memory of Skeeter's is hazy, for obvious reasons. 8>D

            As for Mama Lo's, I didn't get to try it until I had been in Hogtown for several months, thanks to a non-chowhound's bad advice. But then the then-new edition of Roadfood came out (this was in '92) and there was Mama Lo's.

            My treasured, grease-stained copy of Roadfood is autographed by the late Mama Lo. 8>D

          2. Boy, that brings back memories...20+ years ago as well. Skeeters had amazing biscuits and pancakes that fell over the edge of your plate. I don't drink, but still loved eating there! So you don't have to be hung over to love Skeeters. Too bad it's gone now. The other thing I remember, for some strange reason, is that Wal Mart came to town...right next door to Skeeters. No one knew what it was...

            2 Replies
            1. re: gatorgirl

              Wow, never would have expected Skeeters to pop up in Chowhound's "Hot Posts".

              Anyway, in case the OP is still here from back in Sept, here's the history of Skeeters (as I remember it, but it's probably pretty close to right).

              Skeeters was founded by a dude called Asher "Skeeter" Sullivan. Asher was (still is, far as I know) one of these enthusiastic entreprenuer types who's always got a great idea he's going to make money off of. Prior to starting Skeeters, he had a place called "Asher's Rent-a-wreck", on the theory there was a market renting cheap cars to college students (there wasn't).

              That was followed by a little restaurant called Skeeters, out on the edge of town out Hawthorne Rd way. This would be around 1975. It wasn't notably successful until a kitchen mishap resulted in big biscuits...folk commented on them, and Asher realized he had a gimmick. Word of mouth got Skeeters pretty busy, and after a bit they needed a bigger place.

              So around 1978 or 79 they moved into a vacant Walgreens store (Walgreens was going thru a bad time & closed a bunch of stores) in the Woolco shopping center up on 13th St. This was before Woolco folded, which was before the WalMart opened. Asher realized there was a potential market in after-club folk, and started keeping the place open 24hrs; on weekends he added various kinds of campy entertainment (country bands, heavy on the banjos). The signature dish was the "little Asher", a pile of hashbrowns with a fried egg and slice of cheese, but the menu included just about everything (most of which was outside the kitchen's ability).

              Sullivan eventually sold the place, and around 1986 the new owners decided that, since their main custom was after-clubbers, they should move downtown where the clubs were. That turned out to be a bad move, the location at University & 4th was pretty inaccessible, and club-goers tastes had turned away from camp-country.

              Sullivan, meanwhile, started a new business (as every good entrepreneur does), a restaurant with topless waitresses called Cafe Risque, on Williston Rd by the interstate. The city shortly pushed him out of that location (no parking for semi-trucks, they said), and the cafe moved to the old Stuckeys in Micanopy (where it still is, altho I gather they gave over with the restaurant part of the deal).

              John

              1. re: gatorgirl

                I was to young to drink, but I sure do remember Skeeter's. I have been telling my husband about the place for years now. I told him when we go to Gainesville we will have to eat there so he can see for himself the size of the biscuits and pancakes. I guess that is out of the question now. I am so sad that there is not a skeeter's in Gator country.

              2. I remember Skeeter's from going to bible camp. Everybody on the bus wanted to stop and eat at Skeeter's. And Yes, I do remember the biscuits being as big as the dinner plate. I didn't have any money, so the camp counselor paid for my breakfast. I had the biscuit with sausage gravy...Biscuits and gravy is not good for you...but I remember that it sure was good! Maybe it was because I was broke and hungry...and a rusty tin can would have tased good to me at that point. But, it was good then, and I was with good freinds, and they all seemed to be having a ball. I think that was around 1981.

                1. Wow, Skeeter's!! I was in Gainesville from 1978-1982 and we ate there all the time. After partying, Sunday mornings, whenever.

                  I think the biscuits were about the size of a dessert or salad plate though ;) And I always ordered the Asher Special, omg was that good!!

                  When I went up there a few years ago, I was so disappointed that they were no longer there.

                  1. Wow, a blast from the past. I worked in the same plaza where Skeeters was on 13th Street for a couple of years in the late 80's. Its one of those old college things that you just miss.

                    1. My son was going to school at Rollins in the early 80's. My wife and I had driven from New Jersey to visit him. The morning we were to leave he took us to the Skeeter's in Orlando. I'm not exactly sure what we ordered, but the enormous plate contained several LARGE biscuits as well as mounds of scrambled eggs and hash browns. Topping it off was enough gravy to clog ones arteries instantly. And where could one have such a satisfying meal and listen to a live band at eight o'clock on a Sunday morning other than Skeeter's. As I recall, neither my wife nor I ate for the rest of the day. It's too bad such a unique place went the way of many of Florida's old-time attractions.

                      1. I used to frequent Skeeter's up until May of '87, as I recall, when I left Gainesville. At one point there must have been a number of them scattered in towns all around North Florida; I also remember eating at the one in Ocala, and seeing one in some town further up 441 or 301 north of Gainesville. The Gainesville location did start out at the corner of a strip center where the Walmart was later located, and expanded into the space next door vacated by Woolco at some point after 1979. It was THE place to go after the bars closed at 2 AM on weekends and if you were dead set on going there it behooved you to leave early so as to get there before 2; any later and you'd find your self in an ever lengthening line outside waiting to get a table while listening to music blaring over speakers set into the overhang. While Skeeter's started out with a breakfast and "country cooking" menu over time more and more items were added until it did include Chinese and pizza. This catholic approach to its cuisine was so notable that it was eventually parodied in a skit at the University of Florida's annual "Gator Growl" super pep rally. Skeeter's also served some of us engineering students at times during the week as a good place to stay up all night sucking down coffee trying to get various projects finished to be turned in the following morning, and I remember studying for one exam there, in particular. The place was owned by Asher Sullivan whose name was memorialized in the popular "Asher Special" breakfast plate. The Big Biscuit was not as big as a dinner plate, but closer to the size of a hamburger bun. At the time I was running 5 miles a night and for a while used to have one more than once a week, smothered in butter, and of course had the black on yellow "I eat Skeeter's Big Biscuits" bumper sticker on my truck. (I also remember being mystified by those ubiquitous stickers when I first got to Gainesville -- I'd never seen anything like that before.) "Skeeter" was actually Asher Sullivan's dog, or so it was said, and the store logo was a cartoon of a Huck-Finn-type character with a raggedy looking dog. I was really sorry (not to mention surprised) to see it gone when I was there in 2002. It was truly a Gainesville institution. Hope this helps!

                        1. I worked for Skeeters during the late 80's. I do not remember if the Gainsville store was still around then or not but the Orlando Lee Road location was. As well as stores in Melbourne, Daytona, Cocoa, and if I remember correctly Kissimmee. He had bought the buildings or leased them actually when Omelette House which was previously Omelette Shoppe closed down. I had been a district manager for the latter company and when Skeeter took over I went to work for him.
                          "Skeeter" (whether the dog had the name first or not I do not know) was a Funny man. If you sat with him for more than ten minutes he would spill out 20 ideas he had. I remember going back and forth with him about some of his ideas as they would never be allowed. One was his windows. Which by the way was part of his downfall as a business. He was always in trouble with code enforcement which made every other department stay on his rear end.
                          The biscuits were as big as the platter however that was usually two biscuits split with gravy on them and the platter was an oversized one that could actually be called a serving plate.
                          Making the biscuits was not as easy as making one at home. We made them in huge batches. Well about 100 biscuits for 25 lbs of flour. The biscuits were put on a long baking tray 20 biscuits to a tray if I remember right. They would just barely touch four across and then they would rise to a good height. Antway I still make the biscuits from time to time at home but not nealry as many. Who wants to use 25 lbs od dlour for a biscuit at home hahahaha

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Methinks

                            I grew up in Melbourne and I remember going over to Orlando early one Saturday and getting lost. I wound up over on Lee Rd hungry and looking for my usual breakfast of Biscuits and Gravy. I saw the Skeeters sign and had to stop. I went in and ordered what I thought would be my usually 2 biscuits, gravy, home frys, and scrambles eggs. You might imagine my surprise when they brought out 3 plates of food. First was the round plates of potatos and then eggs. Finally was the large oval platter of biscuits drowned in thick sausage gravy. the big chunks of sausage really let you know what was in it. I didn't even come close to finishing. I even had enought to eat latter for lunch. What a meal. I am sorry to hear it is gone. I would love to get the receipe for those biscuits, they were the highest and lightest I have ever tasted.

                            1. re: Methinks

                              Please Methinks if you would share that recipe for those biscuits. I miss them and would like to have the ability to cook them for my family.

                              Dickie72

                              1. re: dickie72

                                Sorry I did not reply to this MUCH sooner but I actually forgot I posted here.

                                Skeeters biscuits can be made 1of 2 ways

                                I use 5 lbs flour and 1 quart buttermilk and 1 tbsp salt and 4 tbsp baking powder 3 sticks butter

                                Whisk the flour salt and baking powder together and then cut butter into small pieces and crumble it up. Make a well in the center and add 1 quart of buttermilk. Mix it but remember the more you mix the tougher and less rise you get from your biscuit.

                                Put it all on a buttered sheet pan and pat down evenly. Bake at 400 for about 15 minutes then butter the tops and bake another 5 to 10 minutes.

                                The second way is to use self rising flour at which point you dont have to add the baking powder.

                            2. I realize this topic is almost 6 years old now, but it's so weird cause these past few days I've been thinking about how awesome Skeeter's hamburgers were. I don't even remember the biscuits (probably cause I was like 8 when I ate there last).

                              And thinking back on it, it really was weird that they had a Chinese menu too. I remember getting duck sauce every time I went there but I can't honestly remember what for now.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: ScrappedAeon

                                I never had the hamburgers but I certainly ate at Skeeter's many a Gainesville night when that was all that was open. I didn't like the food all that much to be honest. The biscuits were giant but so what? They weren't all that. What I did like is they served you giant plastic cups of iced tea, sweet or un-, all night long, for about $1.50.

                                I don't think I ever ordered the Chinese food at Skeeter's either. Not with Chinee Takee Outee (!!!!) right up the street.

                              2. Someone started a post on hash browns and it got me thinking of Skeeters.

                                The huge biscuits were very popular when I went to school there in the 80's, but the be-all-and-end-all was the "Asher Special," which was home fries, then a bunch of cheese over the home fries, then some eggs on top. We would usually pour some ketchup on top of the whole mess.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: redfish62

                                  Didn't the guy who owned the Cafe Risques along I-75 try to peddle them off as "Skeeter's" when he did his licensing? I guess in Gainesville, and elsewhere, it's the Flying Biscuit that comes close. And they've downsized their biscuits over time.

                                  -----
                                  Flying Biscuit Cafe
                                  4150 NW 16th Blvd, Gainesville, FL 32605

                                  1. re: redfish62

                                    from r.i., but remember going to skeeters on lee road in the late 80's. awesome place!! i've got a skeeters t-shirt, hat, and even a skeeters menu!! my favorite, the big ole breakfast bar!! too bad skeeters is gone. and i miss j.j. whispers. gone also. along with all the clubs on the lauderdale strip, with the exception of the elbow room. heck, what is it with florida? no more skeeters, j.j. whispers, piggly wiggly, the clubs on the lauderdale strip. depressing.