Editor’s Note: Our Place Café closed its doors in September of 2017, but they are now up and running as a food truck—Our Place Cafe 2 Go. For more information visit the Our Place Cafe Facebook Page.
Take one woman with Kansas roots from the Four Corners region with two children, and add one man of Hispanic and Lummi descent with seven sons. The result is a blended family who comes to the table with an extensive lineage of cooking expertise.
One thing was crystal clear from the start: Cycy and her husband, George, would honor generations of family cooks by incorporating their recipes into a menu offering homemade, from-scratch cooking.
Why cook from scratch when a foodservice truck can deliver the basics? “Our society has lost so much,” Cycy explained. “It’s nearly impossible to find a restaurant not preparing from frozen. What’s the point of having a place if you’re doing what everyone else is doing? We wanted to bring in the real food that has fed our growing family. If we wouldn’t serve it at home, we’re not going to do it here.”
Fusion Fare Before Fusion Cooking Was a Thing
The eclectic menu reflects Cycy and George’s differing cultural roots. Cycy’s parents were farmers who raised pigs and chickens and traded for other needs as the nearest grocery store was 80 miles away. She moved to the Southwest at 18 and discovered new spices and flavors.
Born and raised in Portland, George’s father owned a Mexican restaurant. George was head chef at the Lummi food bank and has always worked in the industry. He joined Cycy full-time six months ago.
Between the two of them, they’re cooking up funky fusion fare that works amazingly well. “We like to surprise our guests with fun dishes that are unfamiliar to the area. It’s hard to find authentic fry bread outside of a powwow,” Cycy continued. “As far as I’m aware, we’re the only café in the area that does fry bread.”
Her fry bread shows up in several dishes including the powwow breakfast sandwich and Indian tacos. Biscuits and gravy and breakfast burritos often find their way into the lunch hour due to popular demand. The fish taco and fish and chips are off the chain.
Cycy hustled back to the kitchen and returned cradling a recipe book filled with generations of family recipes all actively in use today. “It’s my grandmother’s biscuit recipe, George’s mom’s gravy recipe, my grandmother’s cookie recipe – each has come from some point in our lives.”
Prior to opening, Cycy used a direct approach visiting nearby businesses with menus and homemade cookies. She knew that the secret was to take care of their guests, but was pleasantly surprised by the power of online reviews. “The restaurant came along at the perfect time with all the apps and how people use them. There’s no other advertising I could have done so I let it build online. We have to nurture those reviews. We grow slowly so our food is where we want it to be rather than grow too fast and lose it all.”
The $5 special changes daily and is never on the menu. Local working people know it’s within their budget and smart regulars follow Facebook or get on the café’s email list to reserve an order as the special runs out quickly.
Cycy eschews a “fast food” label. “We don’t claim to be fast,” she clarified. “We will be as quick as we can, but I’m not going to hold food. It’s made to order and it’s going to come to you hot, and it’s going to come right. When you’re doing everything from scratch like our hash browns or hand-cut fries, you’ll run into a hitch now and then. The potatoes don’t all look the same and there are variations, just like at mom’s house!”
It’s a Family Affair
Our Place Café is staffed entirely by the Guerrero family. “Food is in our blood. The love of this business, the people, the food, the good days and bad days … where can you go to work and be with your family every day? The kids are required to have a job to survive, but the child labor goes here,” Cycy laughingly explained.
Even though the café doesn’t open until 8:00 a.m., regulars know that if they arrive early, their window is always open. If they had a door, it would be wide open as well. One of Cycy’s favorite compliments was “We feel at home.”
Visit Our Place Cafe for more information and the restaurants recent evolution into a food truck!