As I draw a long, deep breath into my lungs and pause at the tippy top of the inhale and hold; with the sun beating down on the 45 degree day, and blasts of leaf blowers and chain saws buzzing in the distance…I can smell that Spring has Sprung! What an exciting time of year, warm sunshine, brisk air, cool winds. A scent of new beginnings, the smell of the earth thawing. I adore living in Northern Michigan as she bellows through winter, spring, summer and fall, leaving me thrilled about being on the magic carpet ride through her seasons!
Our olfaction sense, or our smeller sense is our strongest sensory connected to our memory. (I can smell the ginger and garlic in the bridge sauce on the photo of the bridge bagel above:) I hugged a friend of mine awhile back who was wearing a brown leather jacket, and with in seconds , I was remembering my high school freshman year boyfriend from several (many, many 🙂 years earlier who always wore a brown leather jacket. It was instantaneous. It is just like now as I stand in my yard and close my eyes and remember stacking wood while I was two weeks over due with my Olive girl. Needless to say, she was born only 12 hours later, eleven years ago on April 8th. It is amazing just how quickly time flies by…and those older than me were right when they shared that it just keeps going faster and faster the older you get!
The scent in the air also has deeply reminded me of 20 years ago when we were moving the 8 foot ice cream cooler into the unpaved, dust covered parking lot at what we called then, “The Hot Spot”. Christen and I had just bought the building on land contract and had my Dad roped in to help us transform this vacant game room/pizzeria into a glistening room of ash wood floors, mosaic tile poles, and a clean (in every sense of the word) fresh looking kitchen. It was the start of our dream and it began our careers. What a beautiful journey it has been. With in the past 20 years, the Hot Spot was transformed into Kejara’s Bridge, which for years was shared with our production company, and then was molded into The Redheads Cafe and Tasting Room. Even through the several years when we shut the restaurant down (2010-2012ish) due to Christen’s desire to fulfill other dreams and me with two younglings only able to focus on one business, choosing The Redheads. I always desired to bring back “Kejara’s”…or the restaurant bit of the business. I loved the relationships with people. I loved the food. I loved the pulse of the busy summer in Leelanau. I loved the atmosphere. I loved the connection.
Never did I plan nor orchestrate the outcome of this past year, however, it has played itself out well to me, and I have not turned from its distinct demands to be heard. As I reread in my blog from last May (https://sassyredheads.wordpress.com/2016/05/) that discussed all the exciting happenings of Production, the Cafe, the artshow and music concerts, the story of how all this food shananigans started, I am left with a big smile on my face. What a wonderful year! We have had a two year in a row record setting of sales, we had a great Chef (Fig) with a big personality and another amazing Chef (and human to say the least) John grace our kitchen , an amazing staff…as always, as well as built out and moved into a 1700 sq ft kitchen for production! When the fall came Chef Fig felt he needed to pursue his dream of having his own restaurant. We talked over it for hours until we both knew that his heart loved our customers, our mission resonated with him, and our food was fantastic, but he needed to step out and go after his own dream, create his own “Kejara’s”. And as much as I hated to have him go…I understood…maybe better than most:)
With Chef leaving last fall and a few other unexpected shifts and changes, I was left running the kitchen and the line on my own. (Thank god for Christen, Jessica, Craig, Kira, Katie, Aaron, Heather, Michelle and so many others…) This also left me away from running my production company in Traverse City. While interviewing for our next Chef, ordering, baking, creating specials, cleaning & resetting my kitchen and line, opening and closing and cooking for our best fall numbers to date, coaching Volleyball, mothering two kiddos, traveling to Indianapolis to support hummus sales, maintaining shelves for our 200 wholesale accounts, attempting to manage my gluten issues, in addition to managing financials for two entirely different business, I worked for both sides of the coin as I have been doing for years: Production and Cafe. In all of those years, I have never felt that my time running the cafe was near its end. It’s my baby. We did it. We beat all the incredible odds against us and created a farm to table, sustainable, organic, local, vegan&vegetarian, award winning restaurant for 20 years! Goal accomplished. However, because of all of the things listed above, and because I am not 23 anymore, nor do I have the same goals and dreams as I once did, I felt I was ready to focus on just production. As much as I was excited to have a chef and a staff run the cafe, I found that I was still spending immense amounts of time on it, while paying others to do so. It was not leaving me the appropriate energy, capital, nor time to ignite the sales needed to make the production company thrive.
So with this, I officially announce that I will not be reopening my beloved Kejara’s Bridge/The Redheads Cafe and Tasting Room nor lil Leland Cafe. (Diana at Leelanau Books is looking to perhaps sell her building and business and we thought this perfect timing to focus just on production). Chef Fig is now leasing the building from me to develop and create his own menu, his own restaurant using local and organic ingredients for breakfast and lunch! As I feel a ping here and there as I soak in the scents of these memories, I am really feeling happy and centered about this decision. It is the perfect time in my life, for my business, and for my family. And as I am so very sad to not see all of you on a semi regular basis, I know that we will stay connected through this blog, newsletter, fb, instagram and twitter, through Fig’s in my old space (I will be in there eating a lot!), and through my products being enjoyed at your table! And I hope to see you at our END OF AN ERA bash at 202 W. Main
Street (the hot spot aka Kejara’s aka cafe and tasting room aka Fig’s:) on Sunday May 28th from 4pm-8pm. Free food, face painting, live music from many fabulous musicians, hummus eating contest, artists booths, stories, community, goodbyes and hellos! We want to introduce you to Chef Fig’s menu and his family who will be leasing the building from me to start their dream of opening their own digs. It has been so very sweet to pass the torch on to someone who believes in good food that is good for the earth and for good folk. Please stop in and see what he is cooking up, and come give me a hug and share your stories about your time at Kejara’s and The Redheads at the party!
Open house for all! (more details on this event in our May newsletter:)
As it is an End of an Era which has been defined as “a period of history in which something important happens. … When an important event happens, you can say that the event “marks the end of an era” or “marks the beginning of a new era“. So, here marks the end of an era…as well as marks the beginning of yet another new era.
Stay tuned…..I just know there is much more to do in this next 20 years…and I am graciously honored to have been a part of this truly special endeavor with so many truly special people. There has never been anything like it before nor again and I will be forever in awe of how such a beautiful dream has flourished.
Now I best be getting back to making hummus and veggie burgers. We have much news to share in next months blog about new distributors, new stores, and new products!
Always living it sassy~