After a complete renovation

Biz Buzz: What’s in season is on the menu at new café

Tomatoes and Thyme located next to Columbia Valley Greenhouse

Sometimes life comes together just like it is supposed to. The timing is right and the place is right.

That’s what happened four weeks ago when Kandy Schroder opened the doors of her Tomatoes and Thyme Café on Old Waneta Road. Even the name she thought of a few years ago fit into her epicurious vision.

Light in-season fare, fresh squeezed lemonade, brewed ice tea to order,  and goodies baked each morning are what’s coming out of her newly renovated kitchen seven days a week.

“The menu is seasonal,” she said. “Working next to a greenhouse and living in the Kootenays means everything fresh is so accessible. Like my thyme that I grow outside the front window.”

All Schroder’s dishes have a zing of fresh herbs, but her homegrown thyme is what sets her daily soups and savories apart from other cooks’ recipes.

“That’s where the name Tomatoes and Thyme comes in as well,” she said. “So when this location came up it was just perfect because I always wanted to go into this venture with a fresh theme.”

The days start early and end at dusk for Schroder, beginning with a breakfast platter, the popular french toast muffin and fruit crisps baked at dawn. Orders can be to go, but most prefer enjoying their meal on the flower-adorned patio or inside the renovated dining room that’s been painted in warm and welcoming hues.

Then it’s on to the lunch menu with daily specials like beef sirloin pasta salad with a fresh garden medley.

“I do all the baking and it does go fast,” she said, mentioning a part time cook helps during the midday rush. “But people come in and have treats for desserts later in the day.”

To complement pastries and meals, Schroder offers fresh ground coffee or specialty beverages like cappuccinos, lattes and iced coffees – most of which are whipped up by her teenaged daughters and servers who work the front counter while she cooks mise en place in the gleaming kitchen.

Fresh sandwiches, wraps and salads are often followed by an in-demand summer time treat – waffle cones and waffle bowls filled with one or two scoops of her 20-plus choices of ice cream.

“I have a brand new ice cream cooler and it’s been very popular,” she said. “I had people coming in a steady stream asking for Tiger Tiger which I didn’t have at first. But I ordered it, and added it to all the all flavours I have on hand, including the classics.”

It’s been a lot of work, but Schroder is loving every minute of it. Her customers, friends and family have been positive, encouraging and the buzz about her tasty menu grows daily.

“People have come in from all over,” she added. “I even have businesses from Castlegar text me their lunch orders which I have ready for them when they drive in to pick it up.”

Coming up Aug. 19, Schroder is bringing back “Ladies Night,” at Tomatoes and Thyme, which was a popular local women’s event that faded away a number of years ago.

Ten-dollar tickets went on sale this week for the evening that includes dinner and refreshments, a variety of vendors showcasing wares like teas and jewelry as well as a table set up by the local winery.

“It was time to bring this back,” she said. “I am excited, it will be a really nice night for ladies.”

With three daughters, a husband and a business she operates Monday to Saturday from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. it’s a wonder where the former administrative worker gets all her energy from.

“Growing up in a big family everybody had to do their part, including all the meals,” explained the Kamloops-reared cook.  “And most of it fell on the younger children. So that’s how this all started.”

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