Gathering Spot: Family-friendly restaurant to feature local, seasonal food

December 2010 Posted in Business, Other

Gathering Spot owner Anna KuzminBy Rachel Bucci

On a Friday afternoon in December, saws buzzed and hammers rung out at The Gathering Spot in downtown Silverton.

A worker guided a saw across a stainless steel countertop in a haze of sparks, trimming the soon-to-be espresso bar. The new kitchen was a jumble of appliances, some still wrapped in plastic, including an industrial mixer that wll soon churn pastry dough and crepe batter.

“I should probably be nervous, but I’m more excited, really,” said owner Anna Kuzmin as she explained how her dream of opening a restaurant has come to pass.

Nearby, Kuzmin’s husband, Mike, was perched on a ladder attending to a tangle of electrical wires. In recent weeks he, and his construction crew, have joined Anna to provide much of the elbow grease to get the café up and running. They refinished the original Doug fir floors, added walls, lifted the drop ceiling and refurbished vintage light fixtures – basically overhauling the space from top to bottom.

With opening day just a week or so away, friends and neighbors also rolled up their sleeves. They worked dust patrol and washed windows ahead of the Dec. 3 First Friday, where Kuzmin planned to whet the community’s appetite with coffee and cocoa, giving folks a glimpse of what’s to come.

Kuzmin explained during the 10 years she and her family had lived in Silverton, she longed for a family-friendly restaurant that used seasonal local produce to make dishes that were affordable, tasty and healthy.

As a professed foodie and a self-taught cook with a passion for baking and a bit of catering under her belt, she thought “Why not open one?” After some number crunching and demographic research, Kuzmin realized that hers was not the only young family yearning for a quality, casual dining spot.

Kuzmin said the café will be open seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and will employ four, including baristas and a chef who collaborated on the menu and who will run the kitchen.

The menu will change with the seasons, but Kuzmin said when the doors open in mid-December, customers can expect breakfast and lunch items such as pumpkin creme brulee crepes, turkey with cranberry havarti panini, fresh baked breads and a daily roster of pastries, omelets and house made soups.

Paying tribute to her husband’s Russian roots and her own culinary obsession, Kuzmin said that savory and sweet crepes will be a signature item. Among the local products to be showcased are beans from Silver Falls Coffee Co., ice cream and all dairy from Tillamook, and produce from Fresh to You, in Stayton, and Howard Calcagno Farms in Aurora.

One area Kuzmin is especially excited about is the so-called Kids’ Spot. Kuzmin’s daughter, Mya, 7, served as art director for the nook tucked into the rear of the café. With its chalkboard wall, toys and children’s books, Kuzmin envisions it as a place where families can linger and relax. Mya also weighed in on the kids’ menu, giving a hearty endorsement to the kitty cat pancakes with chocolate chips.

Many hands and hearts have had a hand in bringing the venture to fruition and Kuzmin hopes to see the restaurant become a community hub – a true gathering spot. She said the café will be available after-hours for community and private events. (Birthday parties are already booked and the café will host the Silverton Poetry Society in January.)

The Gathering Spot is at 106 N. First St., Silverton. Hours: 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

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