The dreaded paper sign in the window has gone up at the Essential Bakery Cafe in Madison Valley but in this case, the message is not about a closure on E Madison.
Or, at least, it won’t be a long one.
The Seattle baking company has sold its cafe to a new owner who is ready to keep the comfortable hangout full of soups and sandwiches, baked treats, and fresh Essential bread.
“We’re just looking to keep our little family here,” Jenny Finau told CHS Wednesday afternoon.
Finau’s new business will be called Love + Flour. It is the first establishment she has run on her own after a career launching food and drink projects across the state.
Tom Campanile of Essential tells CHS the decision to sell the cafe was a product of strategic planning for the organic baking company and “making sure we are in control of our destiny.”
“Sometimes you just have to make a plan,” Campanile said.
Essential’s other two cafes in Wallingford and Georgetown remain open, Campanile said.
The changeover in Madison Valley comes as a few other area coffee hangouts are undergoing some changes of their own. On Capitol Hill, you can buy the old market house and the Volunteer Park Cafe business for $1.7 million. Meanwhile, the neighborhood’s large Solstice Cafe and coffee hangout has made way for the expansion of the Urban Animal veterinary clinic.
Finau said her main objective with Love + Flour is to keep most of the things people love about the cafe the same. Essential’s breads will still be featured as well as a few select neighborhood favorite pastries.
More importantly, Finau said the cafe’s staff is staying on so Love + Flour will be filled with familiar faces.
But there will be a transition and a few changes. You might see the cafe dark for a few days during the changeover. Any big changes will take time.
“Some changes are coming,” she said. “It’ll be a slow evolve over the next couple months as we kind of test the market to see what they are enjoying — and what they are not.”
For Finau, the opportunity to run her own cafe has been a decade in the making. She said she found out the cafe was on the market and jumped in. She’s now a new Seattleite — and running her own neighborhood cafe.
“Everything will be scratch made — and made with a whole lot of love,” she said.
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