Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

February 21, 2013 at 10:07am

Keeping Up With The Coffeehouses: Renaissance Café

RENAISSANCE CAFE: A home away from home for visitors from all over the world. Photo credit: Jackie Fender

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Among Tacoma's bustling Theater District shops and eateries, you'll find the Renaissance Cafe. For the last 13 years owner Keith Flowers has brewed up a kitschy cafe dining space that is welcoming, fun and colorful. Old school art fills the wall space, an etch-a-sketch can be found among the bookshelves and housemade soups, cookies and deli sandwiches are abundant.

And breakfast?

According to Flowers, "that's our specialty, though our lunch is pretty good too you'll find."

Flowers has seen the emergence of the Museum of Glass, LeMay Car Museum and Tacoma's light rail as well as a slew of local shops. All of which you'd think would exponentially increase business. Think again.

"Here's my paradigm. Someone will fly in from San Francisco or New York and find us before they find their hotel even. Meanwhile locals walk by with their cups of Starbucks and Subway sandwiches. It goes against the conventional wisdom ‘eat where the locals go.' I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone sometimes."

Flowers even recalls how he decided to run a $1 latte special for a while. Advertising on a sandwich board placed on a sidewalk that receives ample foot traffic. While outside sweeping one day he spied the Starbucks manager wiping down their outdoor seating area and jokingly asked if his deal was stealing away some business. The manager pulled him to the side and stated that some clientele was actually warning them that the place down the way was undercutting their prices. Locals were warning a coffee giant that the ma and pa place next door was offering a deal?

That doesn't sound like an overwhelming sense of support for a local business owner.

"When it comes down to it," say Flower, "we depend on the 'irregular', our out-of-towners to keep us afloat. I sometimes feel like Rod Serling wrote this place's story."

So then the question begs to be asked, why not support a local joint that offers up good coffee and great sandwiches and breakfast?

Do tell my fellow Tacomans.

RENAISSANCE CAFÉ, 5 A.M. TO 4 P.M., DAILY, 1746 PACIFIC AVE., TACOMA, 253.572.1029

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