Café/bakery takes over Kind Grinds space in Winthrop
In the next iteration of the Kind Grinds cozy café space in Winthrop, Methow Valley resident Molly Starcher is poised to open The Little Dipper Café & Bakery, which will serve made-from-scratch breakfasts and lunches as well as her signature cakes, cupcakes and other pastries.
Starcher, who bought Kind Grinds from Tiffany Yates, is financing the venture with help from the Methow Investment Network, which “facilitates economic self-sufficiency and job growth in the Methow Valley.”
As a child, Starcher loved working with her hands. The daughter of a Chelan-based potter and goldsmith, Starcher had strong models for creativity and entrepreneurship, which manifested in her early years in a robust business selling painted rocks, which perhaps became the inspiration for her later passion: baking and decorating elaborate cupcakes, cookies, macaroons and other pastries.
“I got into baking as a teen,” Starcher said. “Baking’s meditative nature really appealed to my angsty moods. I could just go into this flow state and bake cinnamon rolls as an outlet.”
During this time Starcher also learned that she “loved feeding people” — a passion that eventually led to a decade working in bakeries owned by others, including the Mazama Store. “But I always dreamed about having my own cake business,” she said.
That dream came to fruition in 2016, when Starcher opened Molly Starcher Cake Design and began providing elegant custom cakes and cupcakes for special occasions like weddings and birthdays. Starcher’s pastries, which she prepares out of Sunflower Catering’s commercial kitchen, are works of edible art.
Gorgeously realistic handcrafted sugar poppies, roses, leaves, vines and berries bloom from the tiers of “dang good” cakes with “fabulous fruit fillings,” all made from Starcher’s trusted recipes.
“They must taste good,” Starcher said, “otherwise it doesn’t matter how beautiful they look.”
“People order custom cakes and cupcakes as a splurge,” Starcher said. “They’re for unique occasions, for surprises. They’re not an everyday thing. They have to be special.”
For four years, Starcher spent summers creating special cakes for weddings throughout the valley.
Timing is right
But after two summers of canceled orders — in 2020 due to COVID and in 2021 for wildfire and smoke — Starcher knew that it was time to make her dream of having a small local eatery a reality. “The past two years really affirmed this for me,” Starcher said.
Starcher had considered purchasing Kind Grinds in 2020 when it was for sale, “but it was swooped up [by Yates],” she said. This year, the timing was serendipitous. “I was in school taking business classes,” she said. “I was in the process of writing up a business plan. It just made sense, and the Methow Investment Network made it possible. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Starcher imagines The Little Dipper as a welcoming, inclusive spot that provides nourishing food and a place to build community. Locals will become regulars, and visitors will find it a place they return to whenever they’re in the valley.
Starcher will offer breakfast pastries, soups and salads, sandwiches, and a rotating a la carte menu with dishes like lasagna. She’ll keep Kind Grinds’ commitment to Blue Star Coffee, as well as introducing a different regional coffee roaster each month. Starcher also plans to host intimate events at The Little Dipper, like game nights and classes.
The cafe’s official opening date is in flux right now, but Starcher said that she hoped to open by Labor Day weekend at the latest.
The celestial Little Dipper is notoriously hard to locate. The one in downtown Winthrop, however, couldn’t be easier to pinpoint. Your nose will lead you straight to it, at 94 Bridge St. in Winthrop.
The Little Dipper’s website will launch soon at https://littledipperwinthrop.com.