As many of you probably know, I live in a small town. A *real* small town. So when I was at the grocery store yesterday and picked up our local paper, imagine my surprise upon reading that a new cafe had opened up in Earlham (125 S Chestnut Ave.), and had totally flown below my radar! I not only felt scooped, but pretty oblivious as well. So bright and early this morning, I ventured uptown to check it out. Janet at the grocery store let me know that the hours are 6:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m., and that they served breakfast until 11:00, so I decided to do breakfast.
The outside of The Chestnut Cafe is much the same as other businesses in town. It is housed in a turn-of-the-century building with a brick facade and BIG windows. I stepped inside and was greeted first by a gorgeous interior. Authentic pressed tin ceiling, white plaster walls and black and white photographs of things small town people and farmers like. A lot. Old well pumps, a barbed wire fence and fencepost. Very classy. Like a piece of Court Avenue in Earlham!
The owner of The Chestnut Cafe, Michele Brant, greeted me warmly. I ordered from their breakfast pastry menu… a cinnamon roll and a diet Coke, please. I introduced myself and asked about doing a blogpost. Ms. Brant came over, sat down with me and chatted for a few minutes. I already love this place!
Michele and her mother Beverly Mills run the cafe, as well as taking orders for baked goods (*see below). Bev is known in the Des Moines area for her Bev’s Cakes. A trip to Bev’s website told me that she uses the freshest ingredients possible, and can make any occasion cake… wedding, birthday, anniversary, graduation, and any kind of “fun” cake you can imagine! (And they love Elvis!)
A few hours later in the day, I was feeling the need for a little something to eat, so I went back to the cafe for lunch. They have a create-your-own style sandwich menu, along with the soup of the day and several (non-fried) side dishes. My sandwich was very good, as was the camaraderie. I can see The Chestnut Cafe filling a social meeting-place need in Earlham. I ran into several people I knew during breakfast and also lunch. That makes me happy and kind of nostalgic, because the location of the cafe used to be the beauty salon… also a social meeting place (of sorts) back in the day. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus!