Photo by Shane Harms.
Alison Soike (left) with staff at Alison's Coastal Cafe and Bakery.

Alison’s Coastal Café and Bakery brings ‘Feel good food’ to Ballard

Alison’s Coastal Café and Bakery at 5404 Leary Ave. N.W. celebrated its grand opening last weekend.

The new restaurant has moved into the space on Leary Way where B & O Espresso used to be.

Owner, Alison Soike, said she plans on doing a few things differently than the previous owners like offer breakfast all day, lunch, specialty desserts and eventually take home meals.

“Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day, so we want to serve breakfast all day, and then throw in a lunch menu because the previous owner said they had wished they had done it but ended up only doing crepes and desserts.”

Some of the items now offered on the all day breakfast menu are breakfast sandwiches, eggs benedict, buttermilk waffles, Apple pie waffles and a quiche of the day. And of course, Soike plans to make crepes with savory and sweet options available.

“We kept with the crepes because people seem to like them here, and no one is doing it besides when they do it at the market on Sundays.”

Indeed, Ballardites love their crepes. After a soft opening last week Soike said that the majority of her sales were crepes and breakfast sandwiches.

The lunch menu is yet to come, but Soike plans on making all of her sandwiches grilled.

Moreover, Soike will offer a smorgasbord of specialty-baked goods that she has been making for most of her life.

“I like to bake the things that I made with my mom like banana bread, zucchini bread, cookies, and scones. I bake them fresh every day. We won’t be doing rustic breads, just sweet breads. If I had a bigger kitchen with more ovens I would make rustic breads, but we just don’t have the power to do it.”

Through baking what she knows, Soike hopes to impart her passion for the food that she enjoys making, not just what she thinks people will like.

“I didn’t put anything on the menu that I wouldn’t eat. I want to love what I’m making for people. I don’t like making things for people that I don’t like to eat. It’s all just feel good food that I grew up making with my grandmas.”

Soike not only is using her learned traditions, but also some of the equipment. She said that her grandmother just gave her an 80-year-old triangle electric doughnut making machine that she plans to use.

For Soike, the “feel good food” ties into her love of the coast and a comfortable place to dine.

“My favorite place on earth is the Oregon coast, and so in a way this place is inspired by that. It’s a calming thing for me, and when I come to work I want to be calm and present and love what I’m doing. We just wanted to come in and warm up the place and bring my love for the coast with us, while serving people great food. “

Soike is from eastern Washington but moved to Seattle to attend Seattle Pacific University. After graduating with a degree in human services and sociology, she got a job at the Boys and Girls Club in Ballard. She has been working there for 11 years after starting as a counselor. She later became a program and team director. Soike just resigned this month. But Soike has not abandoned youth development; she plans to have half of her staff be teens working in job mentorships, skill development and culinary arts internships.

“I loved working with teens and middle schoolers. That was my passion at the club; and I still love that age group and that population, so I want to create a way to keep supporting that age group while also make great food for people.”

In addition to working at the Boys and Girls Club, Soike also started a catering company three years ago called Curly Catering (Named after her curly hair). Soike specialized in specialty bakes goods, but served a wide range of food.

Soike plans to continue her passion for food at her new location. She said that she secured the lease earlier this month and that she had a work party with friends to clean the place up and get set up before her soft opening last Wednesday.

“I had a great send off there (Boys and Girls Club) and the parents were very excited about what I’m doing. I’ve had lots of support. … I really wanted to open in Ballard because it has been my family for 11 years, and so I want to stay in the community. I am excited to be here and to be an extension of who I was at the club and translate it down here (Downtown Ballard).”

So far Alison’s Coastal Café and Bakery is off to running start. Soike said, “It feels good already.”

“People have responded well to us being here and have been peeking in the windows while we were remodeling asking when we will be open.”

If all goes well, Soike plans to start offering take home dinners by the fall like macaroni and cheese and lasagna.

“There’s lots of retired couples and single people in the condos above us, and I think lots of them are looking for something good and quick that they can pick up when they get off the bus; and no one is serving take home dinners in this area, so I think it will work out well.”

As someone who has been in the Ballard community for over a decade, Soike feels that she understands it and is ready to feed her community with ”feel good food.”

“I’m are excited to continue to be part of the Ballard family just on a new avenue than I’ve been on the last 11 years.”

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