Saturday, May 2, 2009

Astoria Series Part Two: Blue Scorcher Cafe

Before driving to Astoria, I wanted to select a restaurant in town to visit that closely reflects my values around food and to see a business model in action that could support the farm to table concept. The concept, therefore, is to reconnect people to our food system by supporting local farmers and the use of seasonal ingredients in menu planning.  I found the perfect such place to visit. Located a few blocks from the Columbia River and on the site of the original Fort of Astoria, the Blue Scorcher Bakery and Cafe creates artisan breads, pastries and handcrafted seasonal foods using local and organic ingredients and operates as a worker collaborative.
The original group of owners has changed throughout the two years of it's operation, but the idea behind the Cafe is to create a functioning collective of worker-owners. When I walked into the Cafe this morning and ordered, I was able to find a moment to ask one of the employees some questions and learn more about the restaurant. I continually go back and forth as to whether I should go to culinary school or I should instead self study and find experiences that get me the training I need to succeed. The worker collaborative model is an interesting idea that could potential get me there faster, that is, by partnering with other individuals that share the same interests and business endeavors as I do.
Blue Scorcher is both bakery and cafe. Therefore, when you first walk in there is a counter full of pastries, rolls, and breads.  Naturally with pastries comes coffee, and locally roasted coffee is used in the espresso machine. Behind the cash register you can see the staff busily cooking and preparing fresh food and rolling dough for the next round of rolls to go in the oven. All orders are taken at the counter with a seat yourself casual atmosphere. Colorful, artsy walls and decorum fill the restaurant space that give it a folk/modern hippie feel and look. Bouquets of herbs are at the center of each table. I ordered breakfast, a vegetable frittata with lemon rosemary roasted potatoes, and one of my favorite dressings ever, green goddess to dip them in. Like I mentioned earlier, most ingredients used at the Cafe come from local farms, quite the challenge for menu planning throughout the year. I noticed quite the emphasis on local eggs and little if no meat in many of the entrées. Other breakfast items on the menu include oatmeal, poached eggs, pocket eggs, homemade granola, french toast, and seasonal fruit. Lunch items on the menu include pizza/calzones, sandwiches, salads, and soups. All entrées are under ten dollars. In addition, a variety of restaurant events are planned throughout the year which fosters an even deeper connection with the local community.
Going forward, my trip has inspired me to not only think through my own business ideas but to now write them down! I will soon begin the process of writing out a business plan as well as putting together an idea notebook full of clippings, sketches, and word lists that help me better articulate and brainstorm my thoughts about my own Cafe dreams. Blue Scorcher has been a fine example to study. If you are near Astoria anytime soon, stop in, and stay for awhile.

1 comment:

  1. The Blue Scorcher sounds like a cute place to eat. I love the idea of supporting local farmers by buying their food. I think it also educates the public about native food. Write those business plans down!