Chain not needed for this cafe
Susan Desrosiers is stirring up her concoctions in a new place near Tahoe Keys Boulevard.
The former grade-school teacher, who owns Stir It Up next to Red Hut, opened the Keys Cafe a month ago with locals, good service and creativity in mind.
She put about $35,000 into remodeling the building where Blondies hair salon was located and placed art on the knotty-pine walls furnished by Pat Long Campau. Other accents include a community bulletin board and a wine rack that holds magazines.
In turn, the beauty shop moved next door alongside KMTN television station.
“There’s a lot of activity going on in the center,” she said Sunday morning, amid the sweet aroma and warm feel of chocolate chip cookies baking in the back room.
Desrosiers said she decided to open another shop because she wanted “a real cafe” where diners could sit down and even enjoy a wireless Internet connection free to customers. Long Campau also designed her tabletops in an art deco style.
She serves smoothies with real fruit, coffee drinks, salads and sandwiches on those tables – with some a little out of the ordinary.
For vegetarians, the sweet potato sandwich comes with that, along with mozzarella fresca, tomatoes, marinated onions, mixed greens and balsamic vinaigrette on a ciabatta roll. A variety of quiches are available, and Desrosiers offers a trivia question of the day that will net a free drink for the right answer. She also provides a “heavy drinkers card” that entitles users to their ninth drink free.
The most popular item on the menu has been the Green Dragon super smoothie with green tea chai.
Desrosiers said she’s noticed in the last month her clientele has reached about 80 percent local residents, as people have strolled up from Tahoe Keys Boulevard and the surrounding working areas – especially for weekday lunches.
“That will keep me going in the slow times,” she said.
Catering jobs for employers such as Barton Memorial Hospital have also kept Desrosiers and the seven employees busy while rotating between her two shops. Many “to-go” orders have also come in from individuals.
Desrosiers said she realizes it’s tough to make a living running a restaurant in South Lake Tahoe, but the 11-year resident is convinced she “knows the town and knows the cycles of it.” She added it also helps to know what good customer service is like. She should know. She worked at the San Diego store of Nordstrom, the chain that has taken customer service to new heights.