When the great Neal Young compliments you on the name of your business you know that you have done something right. So the Wake and Bake Café’s general manager, Aaron Gallagher, was naturally quite pleased when Young came in 2010 and told him that “he thought the name was great.”
By that, and just about any other measurement, Wake and Bake has been a success.
The café and coffee shop first opened almost four years ago, on April 1. Before Wake and Bake, Mondo Café had been the coffee shop in McStiff’s Plaza. When the opportunity arose the owners of Eddie McStiff’s decided to take over and fill Mondo’s caffeinated niche.
The first order of business was to get Wake and Bake in the property next to the restaurant, rather than one unit down from it.
“The bookstore was where we are and Mondo was where the bookstore is. So we did a swap with them. The corner can be a difficult retail area so (the bookstore) was happy to move up,” said Audrey Snyder, the co-owner of Wake and Bake and Eddie McStiff’s, who hails from France.
With the two properties connected, Wake and Bake opened its doors. Almost immediately the café had a young, local following, in addition to the tourist crowd.
Over the years that local crowd has expanded to include residents from all age groups. Which is “a very cool thing,” Snyder said
“Wake and Bake was always set up for locals,” she said.
Gallagher believes that much of what brought, and still brings, people into the Wake and Bake Café is the atmosphere. That once you walk in the door the combination of art and the cozy and comfortable space makes you want to settle in and stay.
And the customers seem to agree.
“It’s a fantastic atmosphere, I feel like I can hang out in there. I’m surrounded by beautiful art,” said Chrissy Kinslow, a local and long-time customer of Wake and Bake.
Keeping an open feel in the café is also very important. The management wants to be sure that everyone feels welcome when they come in and that it doesn’t become ‘clannish.’
A huge part of keeping that welcoming feel is having a staff that projects that sentiment.
“When someone comes in here I try to make sure they are well taken care of because I want to see them again,” said Edgar Fuentes, a barista who has worked at the Wake and Bake Cafe for the last four years.
But without good food and drinks all the customer service in the world won’t save you. So Wake and Bake makes sure that the menu has items that will keep people coming back.
“The menu is different and unique. It’s not boring,” Fuentes said. “I think the genie behind the menu is Audrey.”
While Snyder may be the genie, it is Jorge Garcia who seems to be the face of the kitchen and the café’s celebrity chef.
“People love him,” Gallagher laughed. “He has his own following.”
When it comes to breakfast it’s a tossup for what the most popular item on the menu is. The breakfast burritos are the big sellers but the crepes are the up-and-comers. The crepes are “full-on French” and even made on an authentic French crepe machine, Snyder said.
For lunch there is no question on what the favorite dish is; the fish tacos. Though the Paninis, with their homemade bread, certainly sell well too.
When it comes to the ingredients that make up Wake and Bake’s dishes, the kitchen tries to get as much as it can from local sources. During the summer much of the produce comes from Creekside Lane Organics. The café also offers milk from the local McClish Family Dairy.
And it wouldn’t be much of a coffee shop without a decent cup a Joe. Wake and Bake prides itself on both the quality of its beans, which it sources from Salt Lake City, and on the creativity and attention to detail of their drinks, Fuentes said.
“They make sure to get my coffee right every time I want it, and I’m kind of picky,” Kinslow said. “They even brought in macadamia nut flavoring for me, even though I’m the only one in town that uses it.”
Though there are whispers of another Wake & Bake Café in the offing, in either northern Utah or in Grand Junction, there are no concrete plans yet.
But even if it doesn’t expand, it’s a safe bet that the Wake and Bake Cafe will still be serving up its crepes and fish tacos the next time Neal Young decides to pay a visit.