By Don Nelson
The waiting and curiosity are over.
Oliver’s Artisan Kitchen, a bistro-style cafe serving food, coffee and baked goods, is open on Bridge Street in Winthrop, next to The Tenderfoot and steps away from the four-way stop.
The Malone family — mom Vickie, daughters Molly and Megan and son Jonathan — has been working hard to bring Oliver’s to life for more than a year. Passersby could often see through the large front windows that people were at work and progress was being made — sometimes late into the evening. A few of them popped in to ask questions.
The answers started coming on Dec. 3, when Oliver’s officially opened.
“It took longer than we expected,” Vickie Malone said. “We sat here and considered the space.”
There were many things to consider, including the interior design (the Malones did that), flooring, the kitchen, special materials and other details. The space, which formerly housed a barbecue sandwich shop, was gutted.
The result is a light-filled area with a few small tables and an open kitchen. Hand-lettered chalkboards list the daily menu.
The Malones will emphasize organic, fair trade and fresh ingredients (as many local as are available) in offerings that will change day to day, made on-site from scratch as much as possible. One day last week, the menu included a seasonal soup with garlic bread, a grilled cheese sandwich with red peppers or house-pickled jalapenos, pot stickers, spicy peanut chicken with rice, an Italian sausage crepe and a raspberry crepe with house-made mascarpone. Oh, and there was a hot fudge sundae as well, classic or peppermint. Chocolate and coffee drinks (from Lariat Coffee Roasters) fill out the offerings.
Oliver’s aims to suit the morning coffee crowd, casual lunchers, and early dinner seekers. Everyone cooks, Vickie said. Eventually, beer and wine will be available (they have applied for a license).
The Malones moved to the valley in 1988, but then relocated to Oregon to help care for Vickie’s mother. They have operated an organic catering business called Le Jardin. After they returned to the Methow, Megan and Jonathan became volunteers with Okanogan County Fire District 6. The family started thinking about the space a few years ago, but didn’t lease it until last year.
There is no actual Oliver after whom the cafe is named. “He’s a figment of our imagination,” Vickie said. The name “just kind of evolved,” she added.
People are finding Oliver’s bit by bit. “Every day is a little better,” Vickie said. “We want to be a local hangout.”
Hours are Sunday 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10 a.m. – 7p.m.; Friday and Saturday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Oliver’s is closed Mondays. Wi-fi is available.