Restaurant changes hands after 15 years
The new owners of Winthrop’s Arrowleaf Bistro are anything but “new:” both Kathy Borgersen and Sophia Boesenberg are familiar faces in the Methow Valley food scene. And like the namesake flower of their restaurant — the Arrowleaf balsamroot — both Boesenberg and Borgersen have deep roots in the area.
Boesenberg was born and raised in Okanogan, while Borgersen is from a third-generation Methow family. Borgersen opened and operated the Sunflower Café in 2011 before transitioning into catering.
Answering a valley-wide demand for catering services, Borgersen partnered with Callie Lovette (who is now co-owner of Cascade Pipe & Feed Supply in Twisp) to launch Sunflower Catering in 2012. She later opened Kathy B’s Commercial Kitchen, where she not only prepped for her own catering events, but which she also maintained as a commercial kitchen rental available to the community. Borgersen has since sold Kathy B’s Commercial Kitchen to Steve and Nancy Pfeiffer, who opened the Fork food truck in 2015.
Boesenberg graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in Portland, Oregon, in 2008 and then lived in Panama for 10 years. In 2020 she moved home with her husband and two boys and began searching for a kitchen rental to start her own catering business, Saskatoon Kitchens. The search, naturally, led her to Kathy B’s Commercial Kitchen.
“We hit it off and talked about catering in the Methow, catering in general, and all things food,” Borgersen said. “We have such different styles and strengths that when the opportunity to purchase Arrowleaf [Bistro] came up she immediately came to me to discuss partnering.”
Although both partners “truly love catering,” Borgersen said, “The catering schedule is kind of chaos without a set schedule. Planning events is a constant process and always changing.”
Boesenberg and Borgersen have no delusions about restaurant life being less busy than catering, but it has more structure and routine. “We are both looking forward to the structure and being able to interact with so many local people as well as meet new folks and make really good food,” Borgersen said.
Arrowleaf Bistro was created in 2007 by Jon Brown and Joanne Uehara, who for the first eight years operated the restaurant out of a 1927-era house located in downtown Winthrop, where Confluence Park is now situated. When Brown and Uehara purchased a piece of property and built the bistro across from the Winthrop Rink entrance on White Avenue, the old restaurant downtown was razed to make room for the park.
After running the restaurant in its new location for six-and-a-half years, Brown and Uehara decided the time was right to sell. Brown and Uehara are remaining in the Methow Valley; however, they are not ready to make any announcements about what might be next for them.
“What [Jon and Joanne] have created is pretty amazing,” Borgersen said. “They created personal relationships with people.”
“We are grateful to the community over the last 15 years, some of those quite difficult years,” Uehara and Brown said in a statement. “Without the support of the community, our faithful staff and the great local producers we wouldn’t have been able to keep the Bistro and its quality and ethical standards going. We are also so happy to pass the torch to Sophia and Kathy.”
In addition to an airy venue with both main restaurant and bar areas, Brown and Uehara leave behind a “dedicated and talented staff” that Borgersen and Boesenberg say is making running the restaurant much easier.
“We see staffing as the biggest challenge with a restaurant,” Borgersen said. “We are grateful and full of appreciation for the staff who have stayed with us at Arrowleaf. They are a talented bunch and most have been with Jon and Joanne for years. We have three servers who have been with them from the beginning; [they] made the transition fairly smooth.”
Boesenberg and Borgersen’s partnership is “a natural fit,” they say. Boesenberg, who has “a passion for using fresh and local ingredients to create food and to feed people,” will focus on creating menus and running the kitchen, while Borgersen will tend to front-of-house duties.
Short term, Arrowleaf Bistro clients will notice a completely new menu and expanded hours that include lunch service, as well as a few cosmetic changes. Eventually Boesenberg and Borgersen plan to enclose the patio for year-round use and explore the concept of a Sunday brunch. “The menu will change with the seasons, availability, and Sophia’s amazing new ideas,” Borgersen said. “Sophia and I are really looking forward to this next chapter in our lives and a great new adventure.”
Arrowleaf Bistro is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. For more information, visit www.arrowleafbistro.com.