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Sep 2, 2004 10:19 AM

Skeeter's Big Biscuits

  • c

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.

    5 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 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. re: alice

            Buddy of mine would go there after night of dancing at dubs bar.
            Asher specials my all time best breakfast ever.
            How do you make it

      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).


                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.