By Charles Boothe Bluefield Daily Telegraph, W.Va.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Nicole Coeburn, a graduate of Montcalm High School, majored in education at Bluefield College, but said she had thought about opening her own restaurant for some time, and the timing is right now.
The Blue Spoon Cafe on Commerce Street in Bluefield is reopening its doors Monday.
Nicole Coeburn of Bluefield, new owner of the business, said it will be open for breakfast and lunch, carrying on the restaurant's tradition of gourmet dishes as well as adding her own touches.
"I have a Mediterranean background and I like to cook fresh food, something that is different, that we don't have in the area," she said. "I am going to keep the favorites (at the restaurant when it was open before) and adding my own flare to the menu as well."
Coeburn, 27, is a former employee of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce as well as the RailYard restaurant in Bluefield, where she was general manager and event planner.
"I started with the chamber and the love for my community grew from there," she said. "I then started working for Tommy Cole at the RailYard and learned the restaurant business and the food industry."
Coeburn, a graduate of Montcalm High School, majored in education at Bluefield College, but said she had thought about opening her own restaurant for some time, and the timing is right now.
"I decided to take the leap," she said. "I had been here when it (the Blue Spoon) first opened and I knew they were looking for an entrepreneur to come in and take it over. I fell in love with it."
The restaurant opened in October 2015 as a business incubator venture by the Bluefield Preservation Society (BPS).
Operated by volunteers, the goal was to build up a clientele then sell the business to an entrepreneur to raise money primarily to restore the nearby old Granada Theater.
Renovations continue on that project and the Blue Spoon Cafe is actually located in what once was the lobby of the old State Theater.
Debra Ammar, president of the BPS, said the key to the success of the restaurant was providing excellent gourmet food (from scratch) that customers cannot find anywhere else and at a reasonable price.
The formula worked as the restaurant became a popular lunch spot with a regular clientele.
When the building that houses the Blue Spoon Cafe was sold recently, the restaurant was ready to be taken over.
"They built up a clientele," Coeburn said. "It has made it really easy for me to come and pick up where they left off."
She said the tradition of the restaurant's friendly, personable service will continue as well.
Taking over the business is also made easier, she said, by her family's ventures.
"I come from a background of business owners," she said. "My dad and all of his brothers own businesses in Fairfax (Virginia) and my grandmother does as well."
Coeburn was born in Fairfax but has lived in this area most of her life.
"I have a solid background in business," she said.
She has a background in the kitchen as well.
"I love to cook," she said. "I love to be in the kitchen. I will be working closely in the kitchen with my staff and cooking myself."
Coeburn said previous specialties like the blue on blue sandwich (which includes Monterrey Jack cheese, bleu cheese and blueberry preserves) and various gourmet soups will return.
"But I will add a few heartier options to the menu," she said. "We will offer Philly cheesesteak and meatball subs."
New dishes will include Mediterranean humus dip and several ethnic foods.
The restaurant will have a basic menu, she said, but with additions that change including weekly specials. Sweet tea with mint will be featured as well as an all-day tea and coffee bar.
The sweets menu will also be gourmet, including Coeburn's own specialty -- a Mediterranean pastry that resembles cheese danish.
"I love deserts and I love to bake," she said.
But the bottom line is, she added, the Blue Spoon will continue to offer fresh, homemade dishes that cannot be found anywhere else in the area.
In fact, the restaurant will be open for breakfast on weekdays and offer something not available elsewhere. "One of the things I am excited to do is homemade donuts," she said. "You can't find them anywhere around here." Quiche will also be on the breakfast menu, among some traditional dishes.
The restaurant will initially be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. weekdays, but that could change eventually.
"I will consider other things, including selling beer and wine, as the business expands," she said. "I hope to be open at night for dinner maybe two nights a week and I will be open for special holiday dinners." A brunch once a month may be another option.
"I didn't want to take on too much at one time," she said, adding the weekends and nights are needed for the Blue Spoon's catering service. "I wanted to focus on what I am doing now and do it well before I take on anything else."
Coeburn said she is thankful for all the support the community has given her, and now she is ready to get to work.
"It''s hard work, but when I lay my head down at night it makes me happy I can do something for the community," she said. "It gives people some place to go that is new and fresh."
The Blue Spoon Cafe will be officially open for business at 7:30 a.m. Monday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m.