Way of the Entrepreneur: Grace Cafe, Cape Girardeau
Grace Cafe in Cape is not only a restaurant, but a haven of good rest from all the little daily wars. There, you might have a hearty lunch, catch up, wind down, play bridge—or sit in silence with nothing but your newspaper and a heavenly cup of espresso, pulled with love and consummate attention to detail.
Grace Parry, who, with husband Mike, owns Grace Cafe, describes the establishment’s chief purpose: “To impart grace to all who walk through these doors…It’s about how we treat people, it’s about excellence”. That comes out to quite a bit of grace in a college haunt whose clientele also includes businesspersons; retirees; a large swath of the international community; and anyone in search of a fresh, well-stuffed sandwich wrap in these parts. But the staff at Grace Cafe delights in the prospect.
Aside from being a popular restaurant known for its top-flight coffee bar—which uses fair-trade coffee beans only—Grace Cafe is a community gathering place and a Christian-music performance venue as well. Now in its 10th year, the Cafe endeavors to provide service of a sort that is rapidly disappearing, even in so-called Small Town America. “I believe there’s something we’re losing,” Parry says, “especially with our younger generation—eye contact. Here we strive to have a personal connection with people. I like to say, ‘We’re not in the coffee industry serving people; we’re in the people industry serving coffee'”.
Muffins, cakes, and cookies are baked in-house; soups, sandwiches, and salads are also made right on the premises by Parry and her staff. “We like to use as many local fresh and organic ingredients as possible,” says Parry, who, for example, refuses to “take something out of a box or a can and mix it with water” when preparing soup in the Cafe.
The coffee bar is a phenomenon in itself. Robbie Britt, a barista who has been with the Cafe for four years, proves with his deft technique and java smarts that, as he says, “The sky’s the limit to what you can learn in espresso preparation”. Clearly Britt’s learned plenty: This month, he’ll be testing his own mettle in formal competition in Seattle—the mothership for all die-hard gourmet coffee devotees on the North American continent. Meanwhile, at the Cafe, people have actually risen from their table to glimpse Britt’s work as he finished elegantly topping a beverage for someone else!
From charity efforts to the weekly Farmers’ Market, this crew is committed to enhancing community life, Grace Cafe-style. Come see how they make it look—and taste—like a piece of cake.
Grace Cafe, 818 Broadway, Cape Girardeau. Opens 7 am Monday through Saturday. Closes 9 pm Monday through Thursday; 11 pm Friday; 5 pm Saturday. Closed Sunday. For information on gift certificates, free Ethernet/Wi-Fi access, or scheduled music performances, call 573-334-2448.
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