There’s a new reason to visit the cool shops nestled within the walls of The Emporium in downtown Castle Rock. When browsing the merchandise, there’s a good chance patrons will notice the inviting aroma coming from the kitchen of their newest tenant, The Best Buddies Cafe & Bakery.
Since 2008, The Wellspring Community of Castle Rock has made its name locally by serving customers homemade baked goods and all natural dog biscuits. Their newest project is a restaurant where participants- adults living with disabilities- are given the chance to experience working in a cafe setting.
“This is our sixth week and it has exceeded our expectations,” said Marti Jones, Director of Business Development at Wellspring Community. “Our participants are doing a great job busing, hosting and serving to customers who come into the cafe.”
Shadowed by volunteers, the waiters at the cafe & bakery serve its visitors a tasty culmination of breakfast and lunch items. And like the baked goods and deserts that they are already known for, the quaint restaurant serves up only made-from-scratch dishes, prepared by Chef Todd Koeplin.
“The menu changes every week,” Jones added. “Everyday (Wednesday through Friday) we feature a quiche, a sandwich, a salad and a soup.” Hence it makes the dining decision easy for patrons from a short list of choices.
After finding a table in the bustling lunchroom, it was a refreshing change from the norm to have a limited entree list. It made the decision making process much easier.
“We have a very small kitchen, so we have to limit things for the menu because we don’t have tons of space to keep our product,” Jones said. However, using that to their advantage, they shop regularly for produce to keep everything fresh.
The recipes of the four staple items however do change each week so customers can expect to be surprised. On this particular week, the choices were: Bacon & Cheddar Quiche ($9), Open-faced Rueben Sandwich ($9), Irish Stew with Irish Soda Bread ($9) and a loaded Chef Salad ($7). A selection of a Veggie or a Cheese Pizza ($9) was also available.
For the growing number of ‘gluten free’ consumers, it was refreshing to see that there was more to eat than just a salad. Two of their daily items, the quiche and the sandwich, could be easily made with gluten free flour and bread, at no extra charge.
Jenny (my waitress) and her shadow volunteer, Bev, arrived with smiles to take my order. The gluten free quiche with a side salad of leafy greens sounded like a good candidate. And on that cool, windy day, I made a selection from the box of tea choices Jenny brought back to the table.
“Volunteers at the cafe do two shifts: 9:30-11:30am and 11:30 to 2:30pm,” Jones noted. Helping with rolling silverware and make coffee, along with assisting participants, they provide back-up to keep the 27 person room happy.
As I waited for my entree, I admired the decor in the bright room. Along with the decorative mirrors on the walls, there are hanging pictures of several of the adults in the Wellspring Program. It was likewise hard not to drool over the freshly baked carrot cake, cookies and other goodies behind the glass near the centrally located check out area.
My quiche arrived at the table shortly after, accompanied by a simple combination of greens, tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. At first bite, I could tell that the quiche was hot, fresh made and had a crispy finish when I bit into the crust. The bacon and ham added just the right amount of saltiness to the fluffy, egg pastry.
The salad was a nice tangy addition to the meal leaving me feeling full but not over stuffed.
Jenny and Bev noticed my clean plate and came over to ask if I had room for a pastry. Though tempting, I knew I would be back to enjoy a piece of the carrot cake on another visit; perhaps for brunch starting in April.
“Starting April we will add Tuesdays and we will do one Saturday a month where we will do brunch,” said Jones. Likewise, they have started doing take-out (that you have to be present to order), for those on the go, have soup and cookie mix for sale and are available to reserve for special events.
They also want to get the word out that they are hiring. Though Jones has filled in as the interim cafe manager, she is needed back at the Wellspring office. “I am here for now. Though I love it, we are looking for a cafe manager that would take my place.”
With prices under $10 (which by the way, the menu lists as a suggested donation), the great food and warm feeling you get when you see how the dining experience is much more than that- it’s connecting the community- we forecast sunny skies for the Wellspring Community on their new endeavor. Congratulations!
Best Buddies Bakery & Cafe
(near the back northeast corner inside The Emporium shops)