It’s been almost two years since Devra Gartenstein was forced to close the doors on her first brick and mortar home for Patty Pan in Ballard but this week she’s ready to give “farm fresh food” a permanent home again. Patty Pan Cafe is ready to make you breakfast at the corner of 23rd and Madison. You can stop by for a free coffee this weekend to celebrate the opening.
We asked Gartenstein about the cafe, what she learned closing after four years in Ballard and why she chose 23rd and Madison:
After closing the shop in Ballard we’ve been mainly vending at farmers’ markets. We sold prepared food at 14 markets this past summer, and we do several that last all winter as well. It’s always been a challenge to keep great employees when I’ve only been able to offer seasonal work, so I was looking for a business endeavor that could provide them with steadier employment. I saw this place for lease with all the equipment included. It was so close to our production kitchen that it felt like too good an opportunity to pass up.
So we’re on 23rd and Madison because that’s where the opportunity presented itself, and it’s convenient from a production standpoint. Like our Ballard storefront, this one is a tricky location, but I like to think I’ve learned a bit about operating out of a tricky location. A lot of folks live and work around here, and it’s going to be very important to let them know we’re here, provide a friendly space where they’ll want to spend time. There are also quite a few bus stops nearby: I suspect our main customers will be bus riders and people who live in the immediate vicinity.
Gartenstein tells CHS she wants people to think of the new cafe as a good place for breakfast and, while her past efforts have been celebrated by many a Seattle vegetarian, she also doesn’t want Patty Pan to be known as only a vegetarian restaurant. “We’ll have meat on the menu,” Gartenstein told us during our visit earlier this week.
“I’m an omnivore who’s published several vegan cookbooks,” Gartenstein told us via e-mail. “I believe that we should collectively eat less meat and we should absolutely eat better meat, but that’s always been a difficult message to communicate. In Ballard I could never get past the stigma of being “that vegetarian place.” So now we’ve got some lovely offerings that include organic, grassfed meat. We source our meat, and many of our other ingredients, from the farmers’ markets where we spend so much of our time.”
The 23rd and Madison location is right across the street from Crush but Gartenstein and her partners aren’t expecting any spillover — Patty Pan Cafe will close at 3:30 PM. With the nearyby BottleNeck opening up by 4, that gives you near all-day “I need food” coverage on the block. The space was most recently home to FIXX Coffee which closed after a short run this summer. Gartenstein says she’ll continue to serve Fremont Coffee, by the way.
The location is also conveniently close to her commercial kitchen operation at 26th Ave and Valley that she says she’ll continue to operate — another lesson she’s learned, she says, is not to mix farmers market production with her restaurant business.
Gartenstein also says the location will give her a head-start on surviving as a business.
“When I opened the other place I had to spend so much money on basic infrastructure that I had very little left over for signage and advertising,” Gartenstein said. “This place was essentially plug and play, so I’ll be able to invest in promotion and outreach.”