My favorite book from childhood is called “Roxaboxen” by Alice McLerran. Have you heard of it?
It is about a town called Roxaboxen. This imaginary village was made of rocks and sticks and boxes. It was created by all the neighborhood children. Everyone had a job or purpose for being there. They traded pebbles for money, rode around on horses, built their homes and even elected a mayor. When school was in session no one went to Roxaboxen but it was always there. Even when they all grew up, it was there.
Now, I know that this town was imaginary and it is just about some kids playing make-believe. BUT... recently, I have been thinking about the power of being able to imagine your dreams- to have a vision. It is vital to the process of producing something worthwhile. Without a vision, you are void of anything to create. You are staring at a blank canvas with nothing to paint.
In our time together, Noah and I spend much of it talking about business ventures. It is one of our favorite things to discuss. Some days, it seems, all we do is dream up the next one.
At Argonaut, this February, we’ve been diving deep into our brand. When we began this business journey our aesthetic was not as succinct as it is now. This didn’t just happen out of thin air, we didn’t just wake up and know what our brand was. It took time imagining it- seeing it, visualizing who Argonaut is and how to communicate that through an image, through a font, a color, a photograph. And we are not done imagining it. We will continue to develop and grow our brand.
To become good at anything, you must practice. I’m glad I had such a great childhood, one that was (for the most part) burden-less and carefree. One where I was allowed the opportunity and encouraged to imagine. One where I built homes out of sticks, traded rocks for small treasures, and ran around riding invisible horses. One that gave me lots of practice imagining my dreams.
May your imagination take you to wondrous places. Never stop dreaming.
*All illustrations are by Barbara Cooney and from "Roxaboxen."
"Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art." -Andy Warhol
Some of you may know that I hold a Bachelor's degree in Studio Art. It doesn't really mean that much, but art was a large part of my life for four years (more if you include high school). After graduating, I made a conscious choice not to delve into the art world. To me, art was a way of seeing differently, a different framework to make decisions. For me, it wouldn't be a career. Instead, I choose to work at a small bakery in Fremont called Simply Desserts. In some ways, I learned just as much there as I did from my formal education. Simply Desserts was my Graduate School where I realized my art would be whatever I set my mind to and create. It is where my identity in the love and knowledge of food was born. Where, I decided one day I would open a shop of my own.
Now, Noah and I have Argonaut and it is where we get to be artists together. But the baking, that is where I get to be an artist with just me. The beautiful thing about baking, is that your creation is tasted. People get to experience your work in a wholly different way than any other art. They sip and swallow, letting their palates be the judge of whether it is good or not. I love this. Baking is not my creation alone, it wouldn't be as good without feedback from others.
To be the best artist, you have to listen and make changes. An artist is nothing if people do not respond to the work. If it is not of value to the community, it is not worthwhile. This is a tricky balance because the artist's responsibility is to help the community see deeper, know more, expand their minds, challenge. The trick is how to do that with where the people stand currently.
That is why this quote from Andy Warhol rings so true to me. In the time when people are deciding if what you are doing is beneficial, keep producing and fine tuning. Make it a discipline to create. Through discipline, a true artist will emerge.
This season, we are bringing on a few new items to the shop. First, we have a new Orange + Almond Biscotti made with Oh Yeah Farms whole grain wheat, milled fresh here in Leavenworth. Next, and I’m oh so excited about, our new sweet bread is a Rustic, Rye cake (with Rye from Oh Yeah) served with an infused butter. And last but not least, you may have seen from Facebook our tests with the Chocolate swirl, Blondie Brownie to take the place of the Salted Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Now, I will continue to bake. Will you continue to taste and help make me a better artist?
Winter is turning to spring rapidly here in Leavenworth. The days are getting longer and lighter. The sun is getting brighter and warmer but a frost still makes its way in the morning. A glimpse of snow still sits on the mountains.
We had friends make a last minute trip this weekend to visit us and it was so nice to be with them. You know when you know someone so well and everything is easy? That is what it is like with Zach + Lauren.
e.e. cummings (1920)
spring when the world is mud-
luscious the little
whistles far and wee
and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it’s
when the world is puddle-wonderful
old balloonman whistles
far and wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing
from hop-scotch and jump-rope and
Sometimes you just have to jump in a puddle. Sometimes you just have to laugh. You just have to run around and be silly. Sometimes, you just have to play.
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, love is on the mind.
Here at Argonaut, we have been thinking about all the things we are in love with. There just so happens to be fourteen ;)
We are in love with our new menu board sign + logo for our new stamp. If you follow us on Facebook then you know about our new sign. Having crafted it and our logo entirely on our own, we are filled with so much pride for this project. When we started Argonaut, we weren’t quite sure about what we wanted and how to communicate who we were through a sign. It is rewarding to see it come together now.
We are in love with our house-made biscuits sandwiches and think they are the BOMB. We hope you will try one for yourself and let us know what you think!
We are in love with Snake River Farms where we will be getting our ham for the breakfast sandwiches. These farmers make it their number one priority to care for their animals. It is important to us to source that for you. So you know when you purchase something from Argonaut it is humanely raised and grown. That is why we are looking for a way to provide you with organic milk, why our coffee is organic, and why we try to use Oh Yeah Farms wheat in our baked goods.
Speaking of Oh Yeah Farms, we are in love with their Rye. All of their product is grown and milled right here in Leavenworth! Come taste the difference sourcing local brings to our recipes!
We are in love with the Sidecar Lounge in Wenatchee. These people are fantastic and are serving up the best cocktails in the Valley. I am serious. Go there now.
We are in love with our friends at Eagle Creek + Stemilt Wineries. What great neighbors! We are so happy to habited next to these people, to talk and laugh together everyday. Just great!
We are in love with Yoga in the Yurt with Keri at the Tierra Retreat Center. What a beautiful way to rein in the week with one of these yoga classes. I truly feel more centered and grounded. Amazing! Come with me sometime!
We are in love with Club West, or as our friend Kevin likes to call, “Average Joe’s.” It has been my saving grace since the weather has not been cooperating with winter sports.
After a good workout, I enjoy indulging a little and now we are in love with Moonstruck Chocolates, these hand-crafted chocolates are made nearby, in Portland. Lately, we’ve been obsessed with the Dark Chocolate + Sea Salt + Almond. SO GOOD.
We are in love with Chef Steps and food science. Check it out- you're welcome.
When making meals at home, we usually listen to music and right now we are in love with the band Wet. Seriously, I cannot stop listening to them. When you run out of songs…
We are (also) in love with Laura Welsh. If you are Spotify-er, Laura Welsh Radio is where it is at.
Being a sidewalk cafe, we have the privilege of meeting all your adorable doggies and we are (seriously) in love with Ollie, our friend Tyler’s not-so-little-anymore puppy. It makes me want to go out right now and get a dog myself. Can you imagine it? A little Argonaut puppy?
Last, but certainly not least, we are in love with YOU. Our loyal customers. Thank you for coming. Thank you for trying us out. Thank you for reading this blog. Thank you for liking our posts on Facebook. Thank you for opening your hearts. Thank you for sharing your story. Thank you for listening to ours. Thank you for being you and letting us know you. We are better for it.
With all our love from Argonaut,
When Noah and I dreamed of moving out of Seattle and into the mountains, I admit, we had some pretty idealistic versions of what it would be: we’d have more time, it’d be restful, lots of like-minded, young people are moving there. Ultimately, we chose Leavenworth to live and open a business in because of its seemingly ideal circumstances: proximity to the mountains + outdoor activities paired with a strong (tourist-driven) economy.
The reality of tourism has been a shock to us. It is a very different economy than a city's day to day operations.
To start, there is a different rhythm. You have an influx and outflow of people throughout the year. There are highs and lows. Yes, you always have your locals but I'll get to that later. The tourists come in, flood the town and leave. All of the businesses try to sell as much as possible while they are here. Then, they leave and the town is quiet. There is a high in the summer, drops off in the fall but weekends are still good until December when everything is crazy again and January starts well to drop off into the dead of winter and you wait that out until summer starts to pick up again.
From this flow comes a change in how locals treat the town. We have noticed that locals stay away during the frenzy times. Noah and I even participate in this behavior- not even going to the grocery store unless we must.
The reality of the population in Leavenworth is that it is small yet diverse (in generation + philosophy).
Yes, there are young, adventurous people (like ourselves) but there are also young families, older families, retired couples, people who have lived here their whole lives, people who work here and live in Wenatchee or Cashmere, people who have summer homes, students, artists, rednecks, hippies... There is a small number of many different kinds of people who find themselves in Leavenworth. It is important to engage them all.
The reality of owning a business here is the dilemma of how to provide a service to all locals and how to do it year-round, while staying true to yourself.
When the culmination of these realities sunk in, we began to question our move and decision to open a business here. We were idealistic in thinking we would walk in, open an espresso bar and expect everyone to stop their routines and come to us. Fear started to creep in and the question loomed, "should we have done this?"
The other day I was on Pinterest and saw someone had posted a quote: "Remember why you started." I haven't been able to get it out of my head. "Remember why you started." We moved to Leavenworth because we needed the mountains, we needed fresh air. We needed to wake up in the morning and be in a beautiful place. We needed refreshment. We started Argonaut because we believe in good coffee. No, we believe in great coffee and not sacrificing that. We started Argonaut because we wanted to bring great espresso to the people who live and play here and believe you don't have to sacrifice that in order to be in a beautiful place. We started from our idealistic convictions because we don't want to let them go. But in order to be here, we have to be broader. We have to provide something that people are not getting already.
Right now, I am thinking about what it is others don't want to sacrifice to live here. What brought you to Leavenworth? And, what do you miss from where you came? If you've always lived here, what would you like to see here?
Let's have it all, Leavenworth! Let's make it happen. Let’s raise the bar for quality product, quality service at a fair price. How can we at Argonaut better serve you? What are the things you want to see happen in this town? Let’s work together and remember why we started.
When Noah and I started a business that was the only thing we thought we were building. But, as it turns out, when you start a business you are a contractor who wears many hats. Business is all about building. Building a space. Building a brand. Building a name. Building an aesthetic. And, most recently, building a counter.
If you follow our Facebook, you know that we’ve hinted at some new developments in the food department (building a menu). In order to make that happen, we needed more working space. In a mission to build a more cohesive aesthetic for our space, we opted for tile to match the front counter (where the espresso machine sits).
Regardless of the lack of experience, tiling produces an interesting, economical and nice-looking outcome with the only big cost being time spent on the project. I am quite happy with the result!
Now, not only do we have a back counter, we have a new skill (building a resume)!
It snowed this morning and everyone in Leavenworth is so happy! Right now, sun rays are radiating into the shop- I feel like a sleepy cat by a window. It is amazing.
The past week or so has not been so beautiful. We've been stuck in a foggy- haze with breaks of freezing rain. For our weekend, Noah and I needed to escape. We headed to Seattle where, much to our delight, we found sunny skies and perfect sweater-weather.
We also sought out some fine food fare.
Our first stop is usually Bitterroot, followed by Lighthouse coffee in the morning. This trip did not break pattern.
Of course, we had to do "research" and check out some new, hot spots.
At Morsel + Bean we tasted delicious biscuits. As their slogan suggests, these biscuits are made by people who care and it is much appreciated.
Tuesday night, we made our way to Taco | Tiki | Tuesday at Essex. This place was packed and rightfully so. It was quiet delicious. Holly + Chris (Noah's sister and boyfriend) shared a flaming tiki drink (the name escapes me now) that was impressive in presentation and taste. We highly recommend the beef tongue tacos. SO GOOD.
Wednesday morning, we visited an old standby, Cafe Press (we also love it's sister, Le Pichet). For breakfast, we ordered OEuf's plats, jambon, fromage (or two eggs broiled w/ ham + gruyere) and the Sandwich en baguette w/ liver terrine. Let me just tell you that pate is the best for breakfast. The French know what's up when it comes to food.
For lunch, we met our good friend Kevin for Pho. Living inland, it is hard to get your hands on good Asian food. It was quiet refreshing. This time, I also ordered the Cafe Sua (coffee w/ condensed milk). Don't be surprised if soon there is something similar on the menu at Argonaut...
On our way out, we wanted to stop by Slate. The "poetry in a cup," as Sosh describes. A third wave coffee roaster and tasting room, we were drawn to its simple layout and effective talent in highlighting the uniqueness of coffee. You should definitely check them out!
Although we had a lovely time in Seattle, we're glad to be back in the shop and have tons of ideas to bring you soon. Stay tuned...
Once I've made it through all the hustle + bustle often associated with the holidays, I always feel a drive to get back to work. Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays. Getting the family together, sharing meals, sleeping in, wintery weather, getting dressed up for New Year's, great conversation, celebrating. I find peace in the ordinary, the day to day routine. I love it. There is beauty in the structure. For me, that means I'm back on my daily baking schedule. I'm back in the shop everyday.
This season we've acquired some new coffee-toys to play with. One of which is a bottomless portafilter. We love watching the espresso pour through. Also, new to the shop, VERY SOON, is some delicious pour-over coffee. We'll be experimenting with it this week!
In other news, Leavenworth currently looks like an icicle. We had some beautiful snow followed by some irritating freezing rain, BUT it's created this pretty amazing ice-land.
Although we wish we were able to shred the gnar pow, things don't always happen at the times we want them to. It is nice to still be able to see the beauty around us and enjoy this place, the place we get to live.
First thing we need to clear up... we are not using Spokane Family Farms milk any longer. Not because it isn't anything but amazing & delicious/ BUT because it doesn't create foam when you steam it! And for those cappuccino-lovers out there, we could not let that happen!
Lately, we've been very impressed with our local parcel service: BRETT & SON- facing the elements to always deliver our highly valued espresso!
As I am sitting here on this quiet, Saturday night, the 27th of December, I can't help but think of the New Year swiftly approaching and this one coming to a close. It has been a year of changes: change of address, change of employment, change of climate, change of direction, change of people, (even) change of grocery store. In the midst of change, it is amazing how fast we adjust. Argonaut feels like it's been a part of us forever, and yet, it has only been four months. I can not wait to see how much more we will have accomplished in a year.
2015 will be great- you just wait!
Our lease on 617 Front Street in Leavenworth WA started the 15th July 2014. That makes my wife Lindsey and I two month old business owners. I am pretty sure that a two month old knows about as much about planet Earth as I know about owning a business.
Lindsey and I moved to Leavenworth with a vague idea of opening a business of our own in a year or so. You know, after we had established our lives here and gotten to know the "lay of the land" business-wise, but I have a small addiction to the endless information available on the internet. Thus, even though the plan was to live here for some significant time first, I was scanning the commercial real estate options and came across this small structure with some patio seating for a reasonable price. So, less than a month after moving we were in Wenatchee signing a lease on 617 Front St.
The concept for what this location is going to become is surely still developing, but what we knew from the get-go was that first-rate espresso was going to be a large part of the business. After being open for one month I can confidently say that that we are truly producing the best espresso drinks in town and selling the best beans in town as well. On top of this, the "raw" elements going into a latte that we craft are more local and of a higher quality that anything else being offered. Our beans are sourced from Blue Star Coffee Roasters and we just started buying our milk from Spokane Family Farm. I am very proud of what we have accomplished and the direction we are going.
Thanks to everyone who has supported us so far and check back to hear the latest goings on at Argonaut and maybe some West-end of Front Street gossip.