Deda’s Bakery goes mobile

 photos by mary preiser potts

It’s not everyday that someone swoops in to fund your dreams. Utilizing a Kickstarter campaign, a passion for sweets and their personal warmth, Chris and Catherine Misener of Deda’s Bakery sold their baked goods at community events all over Vancouver last summer. They bake out of a shared commercial kitchen with primarily wholesale and custom orders. But, their short-term goal is to buy a mobile bakery and go direct.

It was difficult to reach enough people making modest donations to make the mobile bakery a reality. The Miseners prepared to re-launch the campaign with new ideas when something completely unexpected happened. Someone – the Miseners are not saying who or how – came forward and offered to fund the food cart.

“Kickstarter is such a cool concept,” Catherine said. “It’s a fantastic way for people to see what’s going on – or what might go on – in their community. And when you back a project, you’re contributing to making someone’s dreams come true, and that also strengthens the community.”

My first taste of Deda’s baked goods was at a picnic table outside of Torque Coffee during a Drink This! event. I love baked goods, especially when they’re sweet without tasting sugary. In the case of the porter cupcake I tasted the rich flavors of the beer as well as the subtle spices in the cake, and the frosting was more cream than sugar, just how I like it. The other items I tried followed suit. The hand pie was apple first, then cinnamon-sweetness. The crust was light and textural. Even the whoopie pies exhibited an uncharacteristic complexity of flavors.

The Miseners relocated to Vancouver from Ann Arbor, Mich., in 2009. They brought Deda’s Bakery with them, but they didn’t immediately open a storefront when they arrived. Instead they rented space in a commercial kitchen and rounded up as many wholesale accounts as they could manage, as well as taking custom orders.

In August they participated in the Vancouver Brewfest, where beer from Heathen Brewing and Mt. Tabor Brewing found its way into their baking in honor of the event. But the treats – brewballs and porter cupcakes among them – were such a hit that they may earn a permanent spot on Deda’s menu.

“I was surprised how much I enjoyed incorporating various microbrews into our treats. I didn’t expect the subtle flavors of malt, hops, coffee, caramel and such to come through so well,” Catherine said.

They both agree that one of the best things about having a bakery is getting to connect with people in their community. This is something they’ve missed about not having a storefront. But, the experience of serving people in many different locations instead of being rooted to one bakery in one neighborhood was appealing to them. There, the idea of the mobile bakery was born.

Soon, they’ll be cruising Vancouver with their bakery trailer, and adding a cafe menu to their sweet offerings. Twitter will guide customers to their current location. In five years? They hope to also open a storefront in downtown.


Deda’s Bakery

Chris & Catherine Misener



Little cups hold big dreams

Play cafe adds preschool and franchise opportunities

photos by jessica swanson

ust one year ago last October, Little Cups and Grownups opened on Main Street in Old Town Battle Ground. Matt Parker had left behind his job as a bodyshop manager and – a little blessing – his commute from Battle Ground to Beaverton. He and his wife Janelle decided to do something that held meaning for their family of six – open a “play cafe” in their hometown. At the same time, the popular Cafe Sip and Play in East Vancouver suddenly closed, and they were able to score some beloved toys and fixtures. Four months later, the Sip and Play space was still for rent, so they took it over and now run two shops most days of the week.

This fall, the Parkers started a preschool in the Battle Ground location. At press time, 12 kids were enrolled in two classes – a three- to five-year-old class and a “two and you” class for children and parents to attend together.

“We needed something to help supplement the cafe, and Battle Ground is a good place for another preschool because the other ones fill up really fast,” said Parker. The Parkers’ former onsite business office was converted to classroom space, where the preschoolers do arts and crafts and then have playtime in the main space. The school is starting small, but the eventual goal is to offer classes for three age groups: 2, 3 to 4 and 4 to 5, and double enrollment in the first year.

Play area 2

Despite – or maybe because of – all the excitement, I can almost hear the tired in Parker’s voice as he describes the family’s journey over the last year.

“It has been a lot of hard work – a lot harder than we anticipated,” he said. “This is the most challenging thing we have ever done.” The Parkers used their savings to launch their business. They have different business partners at each location, but those partners are not active in the stores.

The Parkers are now offering franchise opportunities with Little Cups. “The family opening a third location – it would be too much for us to do, but it could be great for somebody else,” said Matt. “They would get the benefits, name brand and all the experience that we’ve gleaned over the last year.”

Little Cups and Grownups

Battle Ground

614 E. Main St., 360-687-2045

East Vancouver

3000 S.E. 164th Ave., Suite 107, 360-254-2375

Try it our way

Drink handcrafted coffee in style at Torque

photo by annie becker

Inside Torque Coffee

In the newest chapter of downtown Vancouver’s continued revitalization, a local entrepreneur has turned a former tile factory at the city’s southern edge into a popular coffee house and gathering place. Torque Coffee Roasters embraces the rough, industrial quality of the space, which was an auto shop for years, and creates a welcoming, urban space unlike any other coffee shop in Vancouver.

Owner Ryan Palmer has a long history in the coffee business, with 14 years of experience with companies large and small, all over the country. Most recently, he owned and ran Meriwether’s Cafe, inside Vancouver’s Firstenburg Community Center. With Torque, he’s taken it another step. The lofty space is open and very hip, with plenty of reused tables and chairs or a coffee bar to sit at, and an urban patio decorated with one of the ubiquitous Vancouver murals. The coffee house, he emphasizes, is bike-friendly and dog-friendly – you can bring both inside.

The shop currently serves Coava Coffee at the bar, though he plans to begin roasting his own beans in the near future with the large roaster sitting in the corner. He also serves and will soon be certified to bottle cold-brew coffee. “We try to make our own syrups, chocolate, chai, all of it, in-house,” he says. “We also make our own tea and have a filtering system we developed ourselves. You get a fully-brewed cup of tea, not a little bag or some floaty stuff in your cup.”

Coffee is the focus at Torque – you won’t get a meal here. But incredible baked goods come from Portland’s Bake Shop, run by James Beard Award-winning cookbook author Kim Boyce. And he supports local food vendors by inviting them to set up outside, aiming “to have food carts or trucks here most days of the week.”

“We’re quality-focused above anything else,” says Palmer. Between himself and his six employees, “We’ve got about 45 years of experience behind our bar. A lot of us are former competitors in the U.S. Barista Competition – we have a different level of expertise than most people are used to.” That said, he also insists that you won’t get attitude from behind the bar. “We take the newer, fancier places that have popped up with a ‘No, we won’t DO that’ attitude, and we turn it around. Try it our way first. And if you don’t like it? We’ll do it your way.”

The Mighty Bowl

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After nearly a year of planning, The Mighty Bowl food truck embarked on its maiden voyage through Downtown Vancouver in early June. Kevin DeGraw, Sherilee Valenta and Steve Valenta founded The Mighty Bowl with the goal to provide the quick, easy meal a food cart can offer, while still serving healthy food with quality ingredients. The lemon curry sauce on the eponymous signature dish, engineered by Sherilee Valenta, was the beginning of the first recipe and as such the resulting bowl was lovingly dubbed, The Mighty Bowl.

The food cart bowl concept is not new, however The Mighty Bowl’s blend of flavors is. The tangy lemon curry sauce sits in the brown rice and black bean base. On top, sour cream, shredded cheddar, olives and cilantro, blend with the zesty sauce and substantial base to create a well-balanced meal with a light, fresh taste. The sauce is free of gluten, egg, dairy, soy and nuts; combined with the other components, the dish leaves a pleasant and unique aftertaste.

The Mighty Bowl utilizes the power of social media to inform customers of their stops each week.

Find them at:



Doorway to delicious: Bleu Door Bakery offers pastries, breakfast and lunch fare

story by jessica swanson | photo by nicholas shannon kulmac

Bleu Door Bakery
2413 Main St., Vancouver

360-693-2538 | Facebook

Don’t tell me change is good. I have to taste it for myself.

When Main Street favorite, Je T’aime Bakery, owned by local restaurateur Claire Ghormley, made way for Bleu Door Bakery, my first response was “No! (Followed by dramatic gasp.) But it was time for Ghormley to move on and for Bonnie Gougér to expand her homegrown bakeshop, known for Brownies from Heaven.

On a trip to the bakery soon after it opened in October, I was delighted to see a packed case of French and American-inspired pastries, sandwiches, cookies and a rack full of classic rustic breads. The daily specials, including soup and quiche were listed on a lovely chalkboard.

The coffee selection – much expanded from its predecessor’s – now competes with (nay, trumps) the Starbucks located across the street. A full espresso menu at Bleu Door is available from Café Femenino, a fair trade line of coffees that help women worldwide. The attentive barista asked me if I wanted my cappuccino dry or wet. Dry, of course, but the attention to detail made me smile. In fact, the customer service was quite impeccable. (I can’t help but compare to a similar new business in the area, where I seem to have to repeat every aspect of my order at least once before it is made. “Did you say large? Did you say room for cream? Did you say you wanted that heated? Etc.)

I ordered a huge butter croissant (they only seemed to come in “huge”), a pear Danish (which is really more of a deep pastry dish holding a delectable stash of melty pear compote and light, sweet cheese), a blue cheese and mushroom frittata croissant sandwich, and a coffee chocolate chip scone. I topped it off with a rustic rosemary potato bread.

I brought all of these offerings back to the office to be photographed and to share with my coworkers. But by lunchtime I had eaten the scone and the frittata and had dug all of the pear and cheese out of the Danish in the name of “reviewing” the items.

Well, here’s the review: Yum! Thank you, Bleu Door! The photographer was pleased with his butter croissant, and the potato loaf is going home to family for further “review.”

(Update: Potato loaf was well-received! However, I went back a couple of days later to try a different version of the pear Danish. As I was purchasing it, I was told it was “the biggest pear Danish in the world” and they would be smaller in the future. Also, the traditional French pastry crust was dark and dense/chewy, rather than light and fluffy. So…maybe the kinks are still being worked out. Still, this won’t stop me from going back for the lunchtime Hungarian mushroom soup….)




Urban entrepreneurship

New market creates connections between backyard growers and buyers

story + photos by mary preiser potts

Urban Growers Market
Second Fridays (next one Friday June 10!
2315 Main St., Vancouver
(One World Merchants parking lot)

Embarking on its first year, the Urban Growers Market is an evolution of Craft in the Village, started in 2009 by Chris Stevens of NW Shirts and Liz Halili of One World Merchants. The new market brings together a mix of backyard growers, small farmers and food artisans, as well as artists and crafters. It features a co-op table run by Urban Abundance, a barter table where backyard farmers can swap produce, and a table where fresh eggs and plant starts are offered by Posey Patch.

You may even see a table of budding child gardeners trade and sell their own fresh produce.

A swift outpouring of support got the market off the ground. In just a few days, a Kickstarter campaign raised money for permits and fees. Sponsorships from local businesses followed. Other fundraisers included the Vancouver Vixen (skateboard) Benefit Race sponsored by NW Shirts, as well as a silent auction and concert at the Brickhouse organized by Anni Becker.

“The Urban Growers Market has been fully funded by the community, 100 percent,” Halili said.

The local food movement in Vancouver is already strong. As the UGM founders see it, the more options there are for buying local, the better, especially as people become increasingly concerned about their food sources. This is evidenced by the proliferation of community-supported agriculture farms and farmers markets in recent years.

“All of the neighborhoods around here are very interested in buying local. It’s just giving them another option for a local, community, family event,” said Sunrise O’Mahoney, a co-founder of the Urban Growers Market, alongside Halili and Stevens.

Bigger than the sum of its parts, the market aims to serve as a community gathering place. In a city with low walkability in many areas, the founders hope to provide people with a reason to get outside, walk around and get to know their neighbors.

“This is just something that oil has done away with. People don’t know their neighbors…. I would just like for people to see how closely tied we are,” Stevens said.

A backyard grower and mother of three, Erica Barnes-Davis sells produce via the Urban Abundance co-op table. She thought participating in the market would be a good way to educate her children about where their food comes from.

“It’s so hard for kids to know about seasons for foods,” she said, “since we can get anything anytime from some part of the world.”

Plant flowers at Propstra Square

The Parks Foundation is recruiting volunteers to help plant the large planters and flowerbeds in and around Propstra Square, at Esther Short Park on Saturday, May 14. The planting will begin at 9 a.m. and is expected to be completed by 11 a.m. Event sponsor Hilton Vancouver Washington will provide refreshments for volunteers both before and after the planting.  

Volunteers must preregister through the Parks Foundation office by Thursday, May 12, arrive at Propstra Square no later than 8:45 the morning of May 14 to sign volunteer forms, and should bring their own small gardening trowel. Please contact the Parks Foundation office at 360-487-8370 or email Cheri Martin to preregister. For more information, please see event flyer.

Flowers and plants for the 2011 planting were funded through Parks Foundation Propstra Square Memorial Brick sales. To help support future plantings, please consider purchasing a Memorial Brick.  

Friday Fiver: Applewood!

Erika Albright won $5 to spend at Applewood Restaurant and Bar in last week's Friday Fiver giveaway!

Applewood is located at 2005 S.E 192nd Avenue in between Vancouver and Camas. The amazing "Chef Peter" and the story of his globetrotting inspiration will be featured in the next North Bank Magazine coming out in May! Applewood is a full restaurant, bar and well-loved catering service focused on Northwest flavors. Find Applewood on Facebook.


Early Intervention Resources

Contact Information for Birth-to-Three Early Childhood Intervention Programs in Southwest Washington

Educational Opportunities for & Family
Vancouver, WA

Cowlitz & Wahkiakum                                                          
Progress Center Inc.   
Longview, WA

Lori Carpenter
Longview School District

ESD 112                                             
Vancouver, WA                                              

Rosanne McPhail
ESD 112

ESD 112                                             
Vancouver, WA                                              

Hillary Brunton
White Salmon, WA

Or check out this page of the Washington State Early Support for Infants & Toddlers Contact Directory:

Helpful Websites

The Progress Center in Longview, Washington—serves Cowlitz & Wahkiakum counties

Educational Opportunities for Children & Families (EOCF)—serves Clark County

Educational Service District #112—serves Clark, Pacific, Wahkiakum, Cowlitz, Skamania and Klickitat counties

National Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center—has lots of helpful links and information

SELF—a network of resources to serve the needs of children aged birth to 5, families, providers, and the community at large

Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)—a federal program for low-income women, and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk

Friday Fiver winner heads to DuckTales Kitchen

Amy Carpenter won a whopping $20 to spend at DuckTales Kitchen in Vancouver during last week’s Friday Fiver!

This Friday Fiver was sponsored by the Vancouver Business Journal’s Business Growth Awards, the annual recognition ceremony for innovative and fast growing businesses in Southwest Washington. This year, the awards presentation and finalist showcase will be held at the Heathman Lodge on April 21. Enter your business now!

VBJ gives winner $5 to spend at Savona

Michelle Cross Kropf was the winner of a $5 gift card to Savona Coffee House in last week’s Friday Fiver, sponsored by the Vancouver Business Journal. Michelle was chosen at random in a very high-tech process that involved actual crumpled pieces of paper.

The Vancouver Business Journal is a weekly business Journal serving Clark County and Southwest Washington. The company also publishes your very own North Bank Magazine, Women in Business, Top Projects, Health Resouce Guide and Book of Lists. The VBJ can be reached at 360-695-2442 or at 1251 Officers Row in Vancouver.

Know of a business that would like to bring in new customers by offering a $5 in our Friday Fiver? Write on our wall….


Arts Education on Fort Vancouver?

[From the Fort Vancouver National Trust]

The Fort Vancouver National Trust is seeking input from arts organizations, educators and artists regarding the proposed adaptive reuse of the Post Hospital as an arts education center. 

The Post Hospital opened in 1905 and in 1918 aided in the recovery of more than 20,500 patients who fell ill to the Spanish Influenza that year. The building has most recently served as offices for the Army, but has been vacant since the mid-nineties. The Post Hospital is owned by the city of Vancouver, but the Fort Vancouver National Trust holds the lease for the building and is considering it as a venue for the arts and arts education.

Artists of all disciplines and interested members of the public are invited to participate in a Community Conversation about the potential use of the Post Hospital as an arts education center. Participants will take a tour of the building (scheduled in advance by appointment) on Thursday, February 10. The Community Conversation will then follow on Tuesday, February 15 from 6 p.m. to 7:45 p.m.

During the conversation, participants will be asked to provide input on the potential uses of the space based on insights gleaned during the tour and to brainstorm with peers in a short breakout session divided into four discipline categories: Visual Arts, Performing Arts – Dance & Music, Performing Arts – Theater and Literary Arts.

Those interested in participating in this Community Conversation should schedule your tour of the Post Hospital by contacting the Fort Vancouver National Trust, 360-992-1800.

Facebook Friday Fiver winner!

Glenn Grossman of Vancouver won a free family pass worth $10 to the  Clark County Historical Museum during our last Facebook Friday Fiver (Tenner? Tenor?) Thanks Susan Tissot and CCHM for such a generous gift to one of our readers!

The Clark County Historical Museum is located at 1511 Main Street in Vancouver and can be reached at 360-993-5679. Currently featured at the museum is Autumn Trout Gathering, a Celebration of Richard Brautigan, running through Jan. 30. Ongoing is Road to Equality: The struggle for women’s rights in the Northwest.

Do you know other businesses that would like to draw in customers by giving away $5 during our Facebook Friday Fiver promotion? Write on our wall.


Another Friday Fiver Winner!

Warren Neth of Vancouver won $5 to spend at The Enchanted Gift Shop and Tea Room at 502 Washington Street in Downtown Vancouver in last week’s Facebook Friday Fiver giveaway.

The Enchanted Gift Shop is an enormously charming store and tea house with a wonderful selection of teas from all over the world as well as regular special events, including High Tea on Sunday Afternoons. How delightful!

Would your business like to get new customers in the door by giving away $5 to spend on North Bank Now? Write on our wall today…


FB Friday Fiver winner!

Anna Petruolo of Vancouver has won $5 at Woody’s Tacos in Vancouver Marketplace courtesy of Tula Design, the awesome designer of many of our publications here at North Bank Magazine and company! Tula Design is a regional full-service graphic design studio and a long-time supporter of business in Vancouver.

Want to bring new customers to your store? Email me at about participating in the FB Friday Fiver giveaway!


Yet another Facebook Friday Fiver Winner!

Des Standfill won $5 to spend at Je T’aime Bakery at 2413 Main Street in Vancouver on Dec. 4 in North Bank’s weekly Facebook Friday Fiver contest.

Je T’aime is a European-style bakery and patisserie offering pastries, soups, sandwiches, breakfast fare and desserts. Walk up to the counter hungry and walk away happy. 🙂

Want to bring new customers to your store? Email me about participating in the FB Friday Fiver giveaway!


First Facebook Friday Fiver Winner!

Vancouver resident and local shopper Sunrise O’Mahoney won the Dec. 3 Facebook Friday Fiver donated by Mint Tea Imports! Mint Tea is located at 2014 Main St. in Vancouver, and features a bistro open for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as a variety of local, fair trade, organic and imported goods. Find them online at or call 360-699-4991.

Facebook Friday Fiver gives one lucky shopper $5 to spend at a local merchant every week. Follow North Bank Now for a local trivia question every Friday morning. Merchants, have a Fiver to give away? Email me at today!