When Joél Nehm and Joseph Nutting set out to open their first café in 2008, it was used as a means to help them pay for college. They were both working during the day and attending college at WSU Vancouver at night, and in only a matter of weeks after their opening, they realized their café already had a loyal following. It was taking off faster than anticipated.
For four years, Nehm and Nutting worked on growing their café (known at the time as Cream & Sugar) and finishing their degrees. Once they graduated, they decided to go all-in with the business and start expansion. They opened their second retail location in 2012, then expanded with a third location in 2013. After realizing their passion was in food rather than a coffee, the team rebranded their café as Foodē to showcase their dedication to flavorful food and fresh ingredients. Then, in the summer of 2014, they decided to take another leap and launch their first full-service restaurant, LUXE.
Since day one, Nutting and Nehm have been working side by side to make their vision a reality. While the restaurant industry can be competitive and difficult to succeed in, the owners have consistently focused on the customer experience, which they believe has helped their business grow.
“Our number one focus is to constantly look for ways to make our produts better and elevate our customer experience,” said Nutting. “We measure success through growth and customer satisfaction, and on those fronts, we’re excelling. Customer satisfaction is at an all-time high for our locations and we’re seeing new faces every week.”
The team is also dedicated to providing jobs and real-world training to people in the Vancouver area; they always make sure that there’s a place for college students at their locations.
“We have quite a few part-time employees that are working for us while attending WSU Vancouver, many of which are enrolled in the hospitality program on campus,” shared Nutting. “Working for us fulfills the program’s 1,000-hour industry requirement.”
In the coming weeks, Foodē will be expanding to a new location at Riverview Tower (900 Washington St.) and soon, you can expect to see small order lunch delivery to offices around Vancouver. The new downtown location will also have an expanded lineup and selection of “ready-to-grab” items, which are packaged fresh every morning. Nutting and Nehm hope Foodē will be the go-to fresh and delicious choice for anyone that’s in a hurry for something quick to eat.
Meanwhile, LUXE is working on updating their interior and seating, and a new evening menu focused on local ingredients is being finalized.
“There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a burger at a sports bar in Vancouver, but it’s not as easy to find a restaurant atmosphere where you’re not surrounded by TVs,” said Nutting, noting that the LUXE atmosphere invites guests to connect with each other rather than the latest game on television.
In the same way families gather around the dinner table to share stories, Nehm and Nutting believe that the food scene is part of how the city of Vancouver is sharing its story.
“I believe that Vancouver is working hard to create its own identity and I think our food scene is a huge part of that,” said Nutting. “I believe we’re all working toward a common goal to raise the bar in Vancouver’s food scene.”
Foodē Cafe & Catering
309 E. 15th St. Suite B Vancouver
Foodē Cafe & Catering @ ESD 112
2500 N.E. 65th Ave. Vancouver www.foodefresh.com
700 Washington St., Suite 103 Vancouver www.eatatluxe.com