Could you tell me a little bit about the business and how it started?
We, Emily, my daughter, and I just purchased it last October, so we are not the original owners. Emily was a barista at the cafe for quite a while, which was her first job. She started there when she was 14, so I’ve had a relationship with the former owners. And then during COVID, we were both like, “Okay, what are we going to do?” I was in the wedding industry at the time, and she was starting her career and trying to decide what direction she wanted to go in. We started looking at little opportunities in Bristol, and then it happened that the cafe was for sale. We also have a pantry location, that’s on Gooding Avenue – that’s our bakery. We pulled ourselves together and did all our hard work, and we finally closed last October.
That’s so interesting – you had this long relationship with the cafe, and now you get to be on this side of things.
We were always good customers at the pantry, so as customers, we were very knowledgeable about what the hype was and what the food was about. And we really don’t have an intent to change things. And I think that was a big concern for customers coming in, that it would be different, and it wouldn’t be the Beehive anymore. We didn’t really do much changing of the menu.
I knew the former owner, Jen, from day one. Originally the Beehive was just a coffee house, and they sold baked goods. At some point in time, they realized that expanding to selling more food would be a good idea. So they kind of took a leap of faith and brought in a chef and did a real menu. And this was before the East Bay really became kind of a food hub. They were one of the first restaurants where you could go and get food that was fresh, seasonal, and made from scratch. Being made from scratch is something very important to me and to Jen. Nothing is pre-made, repackaged; we’re not just seasoning it. We work hard on our food. That was kind of an eye opener for me, coming from outside of the food business that you can actually purchase so many things that are pre-made for you, and then put your little spin on it and sell it. We make all of our own sauces, we make all of our own bread, salad dressing, everything. We make everything from scratch.
It’s a lot more effort and a lot more work, but I think that it’s what makes the Beehive its own place. You can taste that there’s been some care and thought put into the food.
And my chef does put a lot of care into the food – he kind of tries to come up with ways to have gluten free options and vegan options. So he comes up with some creative ways to, our aioli and now turn it into something vegan, and the same thing with our salad dressing, which is very cool.
So the pantry is the bakery?
I call it a bakery, but it’s so tough defining what it truly is. Because about 70-75 percent of it is breads and baked goods. You can go in and get fresh bread, our cookies, all of the baked goods that you can buy at the cafe. They make all of the basis for the cafe, all of our bread and desserts come out of the pantry. But there’s also another part of the business: prepared foods. You can go in and buy a pint of Asian noodles, a pint of chickpeas, a salad to go. It runs seven days a week with bakers all day.
What do you think people should know about your business?
We are a family owned business. That’s important. We’re all very passionate about food and we’re also very passionate about making a connection to our community and to our customers. That’s something that I feel like we’ve worked really hard to develop this past year is great relationships with customers. It’s important to us that people come in and they feel welcome. And I would love it if it became their restaurant just like it was my restaurant when I was a consumer.
What’s your favorite food or drink from the Beehive?
I’m a super coffee drinker, so any coffee! A good oat milk latte. And I love our BLT and bacon pancakes – I love anything that has our bacon in it!
What’s your favorite part of your work?
I’m a people person, so the customer aspect of it is a huge thing for sure. From the business side, my favorite part is digging through and figuring out what the next best step is. I would love to continue to grow the business, so thinking creatively and collaborating with people to figure out what’s the next best step is something that I love as well.
Is there anything that we haven’t talked about that would be good to know?
I’m always trying to find ways to get people over to the pantry. It seems like so many people know about the cafe, but I find that people are still really surprised to hear about the pantry! So one thing would just be that we’re not just the cafe, we’ve also got the pantry as well!