Fresh faces at Patty Cakes
Kwan and Ross Lofstrom are planning a few additions to the menu
November 2, 2023
Patty Cakes Cafe & Roasting has new owners but the product and menu created by the original proprietor Patty Vezaldanos will remain unchanged, Kwan and Ross Lofstrom said.
"It's a famous brand in the community and people love it," Ross said. "We want to keep the food the same, the coffee, the business."
"We're going to add more flavor in the future," Kwan said.
More flavor indeed! Plans are in the works to stay open later, incorporating entrees from Kwan's native Thailand for dinner three or four nights a week and occasionally for lunch on the weekend.
"We've wanted to have a restaurant for awhile," Ross said.
"It's good to start right now," Kwan said. "We're still young."
The pair met while teaching languages at a Thai public school over a decade ago. Ross, a 2008 Wahkiakum High School graduate with a degree from Central Washington University was teaching English, while Kwan had earned a degree in education and was teaching the language she had learned, Chinese.
Language teachers shared a common area, and while Kwan didn't speak any English at the time, most of the other teachers were older, and she and Ross were thrown together. They became friends, first communicating thanks to a Google translator.
As for Ross? He just sat across from her thinking, "Wow, this is a great view."
They've been together ever since.
Eventually Kwan would realize that while she loved working with the students, she did not enjoy working in the Thai public school system.
She went to work for a five star hotel in Chiang Mai, in the restaurant. It wasn't her first culinary adventure, as she had worked in her mother's restaurant while growing up near the large city in
"I didn't cook a lot," Kwan said, "but I know how to arrange things."
What she loved most was interacting with people from different countries and cultures.
I liked the big hotel," Kwan said. "I wanted to work there because I could meet so many people, international people. So I decided to change my career that way."
After a few more shared adventures, Ross returned to the states. It would be another year before his wife could join him. Visas take months to obtain, he explained, but covid slowed it down even more.
"I'm here," she said happily.
He is now teaching science at Wahkiakum High School during the day, and English as a Second Language at Lower Columbia College in the evenings. In two weeks, he will begin his first year as head coach for the Mule girls basketball team. He's also getting another master's degree, this time in biology.
That's why his role at the cafe will mostly be behind the scenes while Kwan tries to figure out the logistics of creating a Thai menu in a really small kitchen.
"He cannot cook," Kwan said, laughing.
Ross laughed too. "I can eat just fine, but no, I can't cook."
Kwan is planning on a revolving menu of three or four curries, Pad Thai, and some soups like Tom Kha or Tom Yum.
It will be unique to the week, Ross said, especially as they tinker a bit with the menu.
While they work out the details, the hours will remain the same, though they are considering staying open a little later to accommodate students who might want to stop by after school.
"Before we officially bought it, people were concerned we were going to shut down, or be a Vietnamese restaurant," Ross said. "We're like what?"
"Vietnamese," Kwan said. "Who is Vietnamese? I'm not Vietnamese."
"How word goes in different ways here and spreads," Ross said. "We've had multiple people ask us if we're changing the whole menu and if it's going to be completely Asian food. No, we're keeping everything the same. People love it here. Come in and get your coffee, get your food.
We're just going to add a couple things, add a new flavor to the town."
"I think it's going to be good," Kwan said.