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LoKey Cafe opens in former Next Door Espresso space in downtown Spokane

UPDATED: Fri., Dec. 31, 2021

Kelly Stronk and business partner Ben Butler have opened LoKey Cafe in the space formerly occupied by Next Door Espresso, at 903 W. Riverside Ave., in downtown Spokane.  (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)
Kelly Stronk and business partner Ben Butler have opened LoKey Cafe in the space formerly occupied by Next Door Espresso, at 903 W. Riverside Ave., in downtown Spokane. (COLIN MULVANY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVI)

A coffeeshop with a bright, vibrant design and a keto-friendly menu has opened in a space formerly occupied by Next Door Espresso in downtown Spokane.

Spokane natives Kelly Stronk and Benjamin Butler opened LoKey Cafe on Tuesday at 903 W. Riverside Ave., Suite 102.

“It’s the perfect spot. We have beautiful windows. We’re in a great area. We’re surrounded by businesspeople and people that live downtown,” Stronk said. “There’s so much happening downtown and I was like, ‘This is exactly where I want to be.’ ”

LoKey Cafe’s menu features americanos, mochas and lattes made with coffee from Spokane-based Indaba Coffee Roasters. It also serves tea from Revival Tea Co., among other hot and iced drinks.

LoKey Cafe’s food menu has salads, avocado toast and different kinds of egg bites. It also includes grab-and-go items, such as fresh fruit and vegetable bowls, and vanilla- and dark-chocolate-chia-seed puddings.

“We started with a full case (Tuesday) morning and we sold out,” Stronk said, referring to the grab-and-go items. “So, people love what we have and they’re willing to try something a little bit different.”

The menu includes Bibimbap egg bites – which are served over brown rice and topped with kimchi, seaweed and gochujang. They have been a top-seller, Stronk said.

“Everything is made here in house. We have lots of really fresh ingredients,” Stronk said. “We really wanted to bring a nutritious menu to a cafe experience.

“Instead of doughnuts, different pastries, bagels and whatnot, we wanted people to be able to come grab a quick lunch and not be sitting at their desk at 4 o’clock going, ‘Oh, I wish I wouldn’t have eaten that.’ ”

The cafe provides a list of macronutrients – or carbohydrates, fat and protein – for the food it serves, Stronk added.

“If somebody is counting their calories or watching their carbs on a high-protein diet, they will be able to come in and see exactly what they’re eating,” she said. “It will be printed on the receipt, but it will also be available on the item itself.”

For Stronk, it has always been a dream to open a coffee shop.

She worked at drive-thru coffee stands and cafes while growing up. Coffeeshops also served as a spot to meet friends and family, Stronk said.

“Being able to offer that environment that I cherish so much to our community is a huge thing,” she said. “So, it has just kind of always been a dream for me.”

Stronk discussed the idea of a cafe with Butler, a craft bartender who also works at Cease and Desist Book Club in downtown Spokane.

“When we were talking about it, I said, ‘If I could ever open a cafe, it would be in this location,’” she said, referring to the former Next Door Espresso space. “Then, about two weeks later, it went up for lease.”

It took about six months to renovate the space into the LoKey Cafe, which incorporates bright colors into a modern design, Stronk said.

“The (design) inspiration is really just our personalities. We brought in Maker and Made to help us come up with our brand and designs,” she said. “We sat down and had a conversation with them. They got to know us and they really captured our personalities so perfectly.”

The cafe’s name was also inspired by Stronk and Butler’s “low-key and easygoing personalities,” in addition to a play on words for low-carb and keto, Stronk said.

Stronk’s idea for the cafe’s low-carb, keto-friendly menu was prompted, in part, by the pandemic.

“Nutrition is really important to me. I’m very passionate about it. When COVID hit, I stayed home and cooked. I was able to count my calories and track my macros, and I lost 30 pounds,” she said. “Well, then, restaurants started opening up again and I was like, ‘Wait, I can’t find this anywhere else. We need to offer something to the community that is low-carb and possibly keto.’ ”

Stronk is planning to add online ordering for LoKey Cafe in the near future and may consider refining the menu to include seasonal specialty drinks, she said.

“We are going to grow our menu as we grow. We just want people to give us an opportunity to give them some really good quality, yummy food,” she said. “We make everything with heart and we just want to serve people.”

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