PORT ANGELES — It’s a new day for Cafe New Day restaurant owners John and Kelli Hammond.
Red-shirted employees catered to the needs of a large lunch crowd recently as Kelli assembled salads in the kitchen.
Business was “good good good,” Kelli said later after the rush was over. “Just busy.”
“There’s nothing really on the menu that hasn’t been at least tried once [by customers], so that’s pretty cool,” she said.
The restaurant, at 102 W. Front St. on the corner of Laurel Street in downtown Port Angeles, occupies the spot that the former Rick’s Place restaurant used until Rick’s closed last October.
The dining area features a new wood floor and cheerful yellow paint.
On one wall hangs a large metal sign that reads “Harrington’s Cafe” — homage to a previous incarnation of the restaurant.
The old sign had been kept in storage, but local artist Jackson Smart helped bring it back into the light.
“It was outside the building originally,” Kelli said of the sign’s history.
Below it hangs black-and-white photos that show what the building looked like years ago.
“It’s kind of honoring the past,” said her husband John.
Also as a nod to the past, red tiles from Rick’s Place now adorn the surface of a coffee table and end tables.
Food from scratch
The Hammonds said their goal at Cafe New Day is to prove that healthy foods can be made from scratch in short order.
“All of the soups are going to be homemade,” Kelli mentioned.
An oatmeal bar, available for breakfast, is converted to a salad bar for the lunch crowd.
The cafe’s menu is displayed on pingpong-table-sized chalkboards over the counter.
It lists the breakfast sandwiches, breakfast plates, omelettes, soup, salads, sandwiches and pizzas offered by the cafe.
The pizza is “thin-crust artisan, very kind of rustic-looking,” Kelli said.
The Hammonds plan to add baked goods to the menu eventually, as well as “grab-and-go” items for customers who are truly in a hurry.
Gluten-free and vegan food items are available now, but Kelli said they plan on expanding the selection for that category.
The restaurant business isn’t something the Hammonds went into cold: They both have held management positions in the food service industry.
Kelli worked seven years as a manager at the Port Angeles Safeway deli.
She still works part-time at the deli, but no longer as manager.
John worked as manager for the Starbucks coffee shop inside both the Sequim and Port Angeles Safeway stores.
“We met at Safeway,” Kelli added.
John’s son, Galen Hammond, also is business-savvy.
Son runs Bar N9ne
Galen runs Bar N9ne in downtown Port Angeles, and Galen’s wife, Noi, runs the Sabai Thai restaurant on the west side of the city.
On June 3, just one day before Cafe New Day officially opened, the Hammonds were “furiously prepping” food, connecting power to the kitchen and plumbing the coffee brewing machine in order to be ready for business.
“You start doing something, and six more things come up,” Kelli said of the challenging pre-opening work tasks.
Cafe New Day is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and open from 8 a.m. to4 p.m. Sundays.