redwing.cafe.outside
Redwing Cafe and stop 8040.

With more than a few minutes until the next Seven arrives, I stand, phone in hand, under Metro Stop 8040 to assess my options. Old Town Rainier Beach has many: Nate’s and Jude’s are as promising now as Montera’s and O’Harra’s one hundred years ago.

But none is as promising or as close to stop 8040 than Redwing Café. Sucks for me that it is now closed on this late Friday afternoon. Inside, I can see that Su has begun clean-up and break-down behind the espresso counter. She decompresses the area around the now vintage Marzocco like a trainer a boxer after many rounds. Tired. Elated. Still outside, I ask silently for entrance. She waves me in from sidewalk to cafe.

‘We’ve been open a couple of months, not very long. We have the kinks out now. There are already people coming down from the hill, on Waters. Coming up from the beach. There was no place really that you could get a cup of coffee, have something freshly baked. And, you can see, we have a full kitchen!’

Su and I walk past the open kitchen to the far end of the café. A set of back windows overlooks an enclosed patio, one story down. ‘That is going to be a great place for kids in the summer,’ Su says. I agree and add bikers. ‘Bikers too! They will love it here.’ We move back to the front of the café where we can talk in sight of the stop. And they can resume their readying for the weekend crush.

Su owns the building with her partner, Anthony. He is also the baker and cook. He tells me that he used to be a carpenter. ‘Did you make the tables?’ I run my left hand over wood that’s soft and solid. Cool and warm.

‘No, Su’s son did those.’

‘They’re great!’

‘Thanks. I think so too. We did a lot of the work ourselves.’

‘You must be a real measure twice type of guy, being a carpenter then a baker?’

“Yeah, but entirely different really carpentry and baking.’ I stare at his fingers. Anthony pretty much reads my mind. He points out a single nick, which Su adds proudly was not work-related. Otherwise the hands are intact.

‘In baking, there’s a daily perfection of the task and immediacy,’ Anthony muses while he moves his hands through the air. ‘There’s a precision. I bake. A sticky bun. Or a pie. I make it right. And then someone enjoys it. And then it’s the next day. Another shot at perfection. It’s different than moving from construction site to construction site.’

I want to hear more about his daily acts of perfection, this craft of baking. Instead my phone alerts me – TWO MINUTES in green on OneBusAway – to the bus’ arrival. I say hasty thankyous, seeyoulaters, and resolve to come again…when they are open.

1 COMMENT

  1. This is a terrific series, Marco. They help recast the Valley in a more humanizing light for folks unfamiliar with the area, by focusing on the specifics of matters that are of universal fascination. I once did a photo series depicting low-income neighborhoods, and the idea was for the photos not to dwell on problems, as the negative elements of these areas seem to dominate the conversation, but rather to offer a counter by celebrating the life and beauty that does happen in those places. I see your series on Rainier as being similar and probably more effective. Great stuff!

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