Keeping it simple

The Rosemary Café’s cozy fare hasn’t changed much in the two years since the downtown Vancouver restaurant opened on Main Street, but don’t be fooled – changes are afoot.

Early this year, the all-women-run restaurant moved the short distance from 1003 Main Street to 1001 Main Street, tripling its space. Its healthy customer base had outgrown the teeny space next to Kiggins Theater, said chef Libby Fellman.

Fellman joined the café soon after it opened in June of 2005 and ran it with owner Cheryl Cameron’s daughter Caitrin. Caitrin no longer works at the restaurant and Cameron was traveling abroad at press time.

Fellman, a pastry chef by trade, listed two major reasons for the expanding clientele: “The Best” Chicken Salad sandwich and Wednesday’s special grilled cheese on sourdough sandwich with a cup of tomato bisque soup.

“It really is the best chicken salad in the world,” Fellman said.

The biggest goal is to service the downtown offices by getting tasty lunches on the table fast, but the cafe is also looking to train people to stay downtown later, she said.

In July, the restaurant gained extended hours, a happy hour and outside seating. It is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

Happy hour is from 4 p.m. to close Monday through Friday, and features beer and wine and lighter fare.

“The customers were telling us ‘It’s too bad you guys aren’t open later,’” Fellman said.  

So far, the later hours have been pretty well attended, she said.

The café has found success in keeping the menu simple and unchanging. The menu staples have good variety, but Fellman – who creates all of the recipes – gets to experiment with the ever-changing daily specials and her homemade pastries.

When she introduced pastries to the café, Fellman sold a half-dozen daily. Now customers go through about seven dozen each day.

This earned the restaurant a refrigerated pastry case, new with the move.

The fudgie no-bake cookies and vanilla bourbon apple bars (better known as the flat apple pie) are popular and always in the case, but Fellman likes playing around with old fashioned recipes and ingredients. Case in point: peanut butter and jelly coffee cake.

She bakes fresh sweets every morning at five o’clock using her own Kitchen Aid mixer.

In its two years, the staff has grown from two to six people, and everyone on staff is expected to know how to work every position – including food preparation.

“With the small, set menu, we have the freedom to try new things,” Fellman said. “Everyone has their favorites, but we want to be the restaurant that people will always come back to, to see what’s new.”

Rosemary Café & Espresso Bar

Cheryl Cameron, owner

1001 Main St., Vancouver


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