Manette Cafe serves up hot java, cool jazz

Manette Cafe and Mercantile manager Janet Barnes rests on the counter during the morning of June 12. Barnes hosts a book club at the cafe Wednesday evenings. - Photo by Robin J. Moody
Manette Cafe and Mercantile manager Janet Barnes rests on the counter during the morning of June 12. Barnes hosts a book club at the cafe Wednesday evenings.
— image credit: Photo by Robin J. Moody

The jazz music that drifted onto the sidewalk of the Manette Cafe and Mercantile mingled with the smell of java.

The new coffee and gift shop was packed with people listening to the Spoken Jazz show, which was promoted as the last stop of the June 7 First Friday Art Walk.

It seems the Manette Cafe, located at 2202 E. 11th St., is off to a good start.

Sam Schicker, owner of La Fermata and the Manette Cafe, said her original plan was to open an import shop but “It seems like what the community really needs is a neighborhood hang out,” she said.

The cafe hosts live music on Thursday evenings from 4:30-7 p.m. and a fledgling book club, organized by manager Janet Barnes, on Wednesday nights. The First Friday shows will continue through the summer.

The shop, which shares a kitchen with La Fermata, sells an impressive variety of fresh baked goods. Cobbler, pie, frittata, quiche, pasta salad, scones, soups, sandwiches, coffees, espresso and chocolate desserts are included on the menu.

The coffee is Berardo brand, imported from Rome, and all the espresso are double shots, Schicker said. Down the line, she plans to expand and sell more deli items as well as beer and wine.

In the rear of the shop, masks, journals, pottery and locally-made soaps are sold. The walls are adorned with art, which Schicker said rotates monthly.

“I really like the idea of promoting local artists,” Schicker said.

Manette’s neighborhood feel was the reason Schicker chose it for her businesses.

“There is a sense of community here. I’d hate to be part of a mall somewhere — it seems soul-less,” she said

The cafe also hosts a Sunday brunch which features eggplant frittata, baked potatoes, French toast, casseroles, chicken fajitas and more.

“We were really promoting the Sunday brunch, and we sold out everything by 2 p.m.” a few weeks ago, Schicker said.

Marketing is not geared toward any group in particular, Schicker said. Instead she hopes to have a mix of senior citizens, families, professionals and young people.

As mother of two, expecting a third in August, Schicker emphasised that children are welcome in the shop. Her biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has been juggling her business and family life.

“One of them has to suffer, the challenge is to balance that. It’s the guilt factor,” Schicker said.

Schicker, who worked for years in Seattle restaurants, moved to Bremerton in 1997 because she and her partner wanted to buy a house. They had dreamed of owning a restaurant for years, and two-and-a-half years ago they realized their dream by opening La Fermata, which features fine northern Italian cuisine.

Schicker said she leased the Mercantile building for a year before opening the cafe and gift shop, mostly to avoid going into debt purchasing inventory. The building which houses the cafe is the oldest standing structure in downtown Manette, according to Schicker, and they named the shop the Mercantile because that was its original name.

The cafe is open Tuesday through Friday 7 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For more information, call 373-5927.

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