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Charlottes Cafe: new owners, but same ambience

It’s official.

Charlotte’s Cafe, a longtime fixture on Fourth Street downtown, has changed ownership.

Former owners were closed-mouthed about their decision to relocate to Chicago last summer, and new owners were shy about discussing the change until the deal was closed.

But the ink is dry on all documents now, and Charlotte’s will sail on with Ann Parker-Hein and husband David Hein — and their extended family — at the helm.

“We took over July 1,” said Parker-Hein. “The doors were never closed.”

Previously, the couple had been operating a catering business in the Bremerton area.

“Pat and Susan Wright of Just Your Cup o’ Tea told us about Charlotte’s being up for sale,” said Parker-Hein. “We’d been catering for Pat and Susan.”

A deal was struck and the new owners quietly moved in as the old owners quietly moved on.

Parker-Hein is reluctant to say what she paid for the business, however, “We got a very good deal — with lots of help from Westsound Bank,” she said.

She said new bank president, Dave Johnson, went to bat for them by going to the bank board with their loan application.

To patrons, the change in ownership hopefully has been seemless, Parker Hein said.

“There’s been no major changes in the menu,” said Parker-Hein. “People liked it the way it was, and we decided not to mess with a good thing.”

She’s added a few things to the menu, however, such as her salmon quiche. She’s also added her mom’s pies and cobblers. Parker-Hein said they work from “scratch” more than the former owners when it comes to preparing meals.

The operation is truly a family affair. Parker-Hein’s mother works at the cafe, and the couple’s two young sons, ages 12 and 9, bus tables. There are three other employees. One of whom has a daughter who occasionally helps out.

Despite the lack of publicity for the new owners, business was initially good — at least until Sept. 11. The terrorist attacks on the East Coast drove patrons away from most area restaurants.

“At first we thought we might have to lay some people off,” said Parker-Hein. “But we made it through, and now business has been picking up again.”

The couple were stationed in Bremerton as Navy Medical Corpsmen between 1988 and 1992, she said. She’s originally from Indiana and her husband is from Nebraska. They fell in love with Kitsap County and Washington while stationed here and decided to spend the rest of their lives here, she said. The couple and their children now live near Bangor.

Charlotte’s hours are the same. The cafe, located at 264 Fourth Street, is open for lunch only, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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