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Expansion of Chaps will bring sweet delights

Chaps, in the Latah shopping plaza , is undergoing an expansion as Gina Garcia formerly of Bittersweet Bakery will join Celeste Shaw and open a bakery this fall called Cake.  (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)
Chaps, in the Latah shopping plaza , is undergoing an expansion as Gina Garcia formerly of Bittersweet Bakery will join Celeste Shaw and open a bakery this fall called Cake. (CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON / The Spokesman-Review)

The name evokes a cowboy-and-dusty-horse image, but Chaps owner Celeste Shaw likes to describe her eatery as a “Montana-meets-Paris” kind of place.

That will be more true when an expansion of the eatery is finished late this year. Construction is under way to add almost 3,000 square feet to the café, 4237 S. Cheney-Spokane Road, which will become the home of Cake, the bakery of Chaps.

There will be a familiar face amid the mixers and ovens: Gina Garcia.

Garcia closed her Bittersweet Bakery and Bistro on South Grand Boulevard this summer after struggling with parking problems and a recession-blamed dip in business. She took the summer off to spend time with her family, when she wasn’t fielding phone calls from longtime customers desperate for her cakes and sweets.

Both she and Shaw had been talking for some time about combining forces, Garcia says, and they’re both excited about the possibilities for the bakery.

Garcia plans to bring her signature desserts – think Triple Chocolate Mousse, Lemon Chiffon Cake and orange and chocolate scones – as well as European-style baked goods from Bittersweet to Cake.

There will be a separate retail counter for the bakery and Cake will be doing all of the breads and baking for Chaps.

Garcia says she’ll have a larger work space and better equipment. She recently returned from a trip to San Francisco to scope out ovens. The double-rack, steam-injected “Mercedes of ovens” they are eyeing will give bakers more flexibility and space.

She’s bringing fellow baker Chris Harris with her to the new bakery. He worked with Garcia at Bittersweet for four years, where they were often jockeying for oven space and time.

For pastry and bread lovers, it will mean they can make more and better quality goodies. Garcia will be able to make more of the laminated doughs, fresh fruit tarts, seasonal treats and other baked goods she learned studying pastries in France.

Plans call for the new entrance to have beautiful, transom-topped French-style double doors, inspired by the looks of Parisian patisseries.

Garcia says she’s looking forward to the arrangement. She says she admires Shaw’s vision for Chaps and her style: “She really encourages people to be creative.”

Shaw is just as complimentary: “It’s the perfect marriage I think for both of us.”

The expansion will give Chaps more seating for diners, while keeping the popular outside seating. There are plans for an outdoor fire pit designed to be safe for children, which will host more events like the s’mores-making party this summer. Shaw says she also hopes to eventually hold cooking classes for kids.

New counter seating with plug-ins for those who linger with laptops is also in the blueprints.

Shaw says when she opened Chaps Coffee Co. in 2007, she envisioned coffee and pastries, along with homemade soups and bread for lunch.

She moved a pre-1912 farmhouse across the highway in the Latah Valley and added to it to create Chaps, decorating the inviting, eclectic-chic café with art and other materials from her family’s Montana homestead.

Now, some of her grandmother’s recipes have inspired dishes on the full-service dinner menu, served Wednesday through Sunday starting at 4:30 p.m.

There’s a grilled ribeye with sweet potatoes ($21); pork chops stuffed with ricotta, goat cheese, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes served with mashed potatoes ($19); pesto-crusted salmon ($19); chicken curry ($15); and beef stroganoff ($12). Appetizers and salads range from $6-$10.

Lunch is served every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., except Monday when Chaps is closed. Options include a Monte Cristo ($10), corned beef and sauerkraut ($9.25), tilapia on ciabatta (8.50), tuna melt ($8.50) or a bowl of soup with bread ($5).

Hearty breakfasts are served Friday through Sunday mornings starting at 7:30. There’s pumpkin or banana French toast ($8.50), biscuits and gravy ($8.50), and chicken fried steak and eggs ($8.95) along with pancakes, scrambles and omelets ($7-$9.75).

Bumpercrop Coffee is served and espresso and baked goods are served other mornings.

Shaw hopes to have the expansion and bakery open in time for the new year.

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