Setting the Bar for Small Businesses

I love the feel of downtown Ta­coma; perhaps it’s the historical ar­chitecture, but it has an inviting charm that gives it character. When I first became a student here, I couldn’t wait to explore the Pacific Avenue strip. That is when I discov­ered Renaissance Café. It was so invit­ing, charming and friendly. At the time, I only had ten minutes left be­fore my first class, so I rushed back to the Grand Staircase, making myself a note to eat there as soon as the op­portunity presented itself.

When I finally got the chance to have lunch at Renaissance Café, I wasn’t disappointed by my high ex­pectations. My BLT and side salad were wonderful. The service was friendly, and I loved panning the room’s wall décor as I ate. It was about 12:30 p.m. when I was there, and I wondered why there weren’t more customers. That’s what sparked my interest to conduct an interview with the owner, Bruce Buchize.

Much to my surprise, Buchize told me he was the new owner and had taken over (along with his wife, Don­na Spaeth) only two weeks prior. I didn’t realize it had changed hands since I had last eaten there. Bechize said they were excited about the plans they had for the café, stressing that small businesses are the heart of a community. So I asked Bechize about his business model for the café.

“The small businesses are good for the community,” Bechize said. “We spend our money here, in the community, where we live, whereas corporate monies often go out of state or even out of the country.” He ex­plained that his family lives, shops, attends church, and visits parks, here in Tacoma. “I get my groceries for the café locally, I fill up my gas tank in town, and buy a muffin from the shop down the street.”

Bechize and his family moved here from Lacrosse, Wisconsin in December. Although he grew up in the Midwest, he worked here in Washington 10 years ago and always wanted to come back. After visiting last summer, he and wife Donna agreed that this would be the spot for their business.

I asked Bechize about what kind of changes he had planned and what he was most excited about with his new café. He is working toward ex­panding the menu to have more fresh sandwiches and salads, and what he called “Grab and Go” food for the busy students. He currently has fresh made ready-to-go sandwich wraps for $5.00. He has a membership card that will offer customers discounts, specials, and honor them on their birthday. They will earn freebies by points, and can opt to receive text notifications of specials. They are changing their hours to 6 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday-Sunday. In the spring, they will have fresh panini bread sandwiches.

Bechize looks forward to getting to know the community and is mak­ing some sustainability changes as well, including biodegradable pack­aging and recycled goods. Renais­sance Café also offers breakfast all day long, which is popular among customers. When I asked Bechize if he had any last comments, he stated, “We make the best french toast in town!”

We welcome Bruce Bechize and Donna Spaeth to our community. Small businesses really are like fam­ily, so let’s embrace the uniqueness of local eateries!

PHOTO BY ALLISON PHAM