Need a little pick-me-up? Head to Boots Bakery & Lounge in the former home of Rocket Bakery, 24 W. Main Ave.
Alison Collins, the former bartender at Mizuna's wine bar (and the genius behind their vegan carrot cake) has opened the new coffee shop, deli and lounge. The joint is open everyday at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. Sunday through Tuesday. From Wednesday through Saturday it is open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The place is still a work in progress, but renovations and painting have brought more light into the space. Those familiar with building owner Dan Spaulding's ecclectic style will notice his influence, especially in the inverted blender lights that hang above the bar. (Which he also assembled from collected pieces.)
Two murals are on the walls, one that is new and the other is actually an advertisement uncovered when plaster was removed. The giant bull was part of a billboard for smoking tobacco. Employees said the wall was once the exterior wall of an adjacent building that has since been demolished.
Collins invited local residents and artists to help design the booths in the bakery and lounge, so the seating is an array of brightly painted and adorned tables and high-back booths.
Collins said help from friends who have just been willing to just jump in and volunteer has been essential to the early sucess. While we talked last week, a friend was in the kitchen baking.
Perhaps Boots' specialty is the vegan baked goods, but there is plenty of vegan and vegetarian lunch fare in the case. Collins makes the dishes as inspiration strikes and depending on the foods she has available each day. Local farmer Brian Estes brings a weekly community-supported agriculture box from his garden that Collins uses in the kitchen.
Collins said many are asking for the same dishes to be made each day, but she said she is refusing to succumb to that request.
I tried both the "Tuno" noodle salad with mushroom sauce and the spicy barbecue tofu topped with espresso barbecue sauce. I didn't exactly get tuna from the first dish, but it was delicious nonetheless. I've been recommending the tofu to friends and plan to go back for more soon.
Collins said they're still filling in the space with more seating and finishing artwork and painting. Since I visitied, there has been quite a bit of progress on the new front deck. There's a large community table near the kitchen that groups have been using for meetings and book groups, Collins said. Call ahead to ensure the table will be open for your group and Collins can also make an array of small bites and snacks for you.
Oh, yeah! Cocktails. I guess I'll have to make a return visit.
Boots Bakery & Lounge is planning an early August grand opening. Reach them at (509) 703-7223.