The Mustard Seed Cafe has performed a magician’s trick of sorts, sliding from one side of the Bay Area to the other like a tablecloth pulled from beneath a full set of china. But unlike that tablecloth the Mustard Seed Cafe used the change of address to reinvent itself, filling its tables with an even richer spread than before. Patty Hendrikson, co-owner and self described face of the restaurant explained just what the move to Howard meant for the venerable Bellevue establishment.
Patty: Well we were looking for a second location for a while. And we were going to go downtown, but people don’t go out for breakfast very much downtown. They’re there to work, in and out: not a whole lot of families living downtown. [Instead] Jeff and Kristine Knoedler of The Urban Edge Development, ate at our cafe. They approached us and said, ‘You guys would be genius out here.’ And lo and behold, here we are, and doing incredibly well; actually to the point that we had to shut down our other location, the Bellevue location. We closed near the start of July, and this one is on steroids over here. Our lunches are so busy. Breakfast is picking up. Dinner, we’d never done dinner before. We do a lot of cooking classes. And one thing that we really, really like about it is it’s morphed into an art gallery. Local artists have featured their artwork here and it’s really got a cool vibe to it.
The Scene: How did you end up featuring local art on the walls?
Patty: I took the Zesty’s colors out of here: the bright pink; the green and the purple. I painted the walls a chocolate color and a really pretty camel, and I didn’t have a whole lot of artwork to put up. I was talking to a patron who said, “my brother in-law is a woodcarver, but he now works with plaster.” We thought it would be so cool to have local artists feature their art and sell it. And we have always loved the saying, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing is impossible. I’ve got these canvasses: walls that need artwork on them. A woman who conducts art classes came in and she and her students have just peppered my walls.
The Scene: When did you go into doing dinner?
Patty: It’s brand new. The menu is unique. It’s fresh, made to order. Nothing’s fried. We feature breakfast for dinner. You can order a great big order of blueberry pancakes. We offer a grilled veggie sandwich. A French sandwich, served on rustic bread filled with ham and cheese with white sauce dipped in egg batter and then grilled, then topped with a fried egg and strawberry cream sauce on the side.
The Scene: It sounds like Howard is expanding.
Patty: When you talk to the regulars out here, they cannot believe just how much it’s grown. New shops are going up. The Midwest Expansion developers are putting in upscale apartments. There’s a dog park and a cat park, believe it or not. And then they’ve got these really cool golf carts. So you can grab a golf cart and drive up here: go to the store; come on up here for dinner or breakfast or go to The Bottle Room for a glass of wine.
The Scene: How did your chef Ken get into cooking?
Patty: Actually he’s from the St. Paul area. He wanted to go into cabinetry. He was working in a pizza place at the time. And the only thing open was a culinary program. He thought, “What the heck. I love to cook. Might as well jump in.” And from there he cooked at high-end restaurants in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and worked under some European chefs that really put the passion for cooking into him. He’s cooked all over the Midwest as an executive chef, and he was at the Green Bay Country Club when the Cafe Susan’s was closed. Ken and I purchased it from Susan Bino. That was eight years ago and the rest is history.
The Scene: How did you get into the business?
Patty: I’m his wife. I’m not related to him, I chose to marry the guy. Let’s not even go there (laugh). I worked in sales for many years. And when we decided to do this joint venture at two locations I jumped off of that and came on board as the marketing and front of the house. You know I’m a lot cuter than he is. And it didn’t take much. It’s amazing how he constantly comes up with such good ideas. And the chefs that work with him. Scott Lindner is his name, worked with Ken at the Green Bay Country Club years ago. When we were putting the team together I said let’s call Scott and see what he’s doing. He was looking to get into something more creative and less hours. And lo and behold. So Scott and Ken are working together again. I just love that. And we have Deleley and Nick Burkheart who are just super passionate about food. And another thing we do is we couple with The Oilerie that’s in the strip mall next to us, and La Java. We always have a soup of the day, and a sandwich of the day. Very unique. Ken says it’s not fine dining here, it’s fun dining. And it’s very true. It’s exactly who we are. We have fun.