In Bothell, it’s Alexa’s Café on Main Street.
Known for its hearty breakfasts and reliable lunch fare, the restaurant also has a reputation for being a community gathering place for area residents.
Up until now, however, it has only been open until mid-afternoon.
“We’ve been a breakfast and lunch place for the past 18 years,” says owner Leigh Henderson, “but now that’s changed. With expanded hours, we’re going to be open until 7 p.m. on weekdays so that we can be a happy hour destination, too.”
She adds, “We want to be seen as a place that people can come after work and just chill with their friends, while having some good food and drinks.”
Along with salads and a number of hot items off the café’s lunch menu, including burgers, grilled sandwiches and quesadillas, there is also an array of new appetizers geared toward the happy hour crowd, including a hummus plate, artichoke dip, mini BBQ chicken and grilled veggie pizzas, street tacos and several types of sliders.
The “black and blue” slider, for example, incorporates Cajun spices and blue cheese, and the “skillet” slider is made with bacon jam and Cambozola cheese.
“We’re using natural beef from Painted Hills in Oregon,” adds Henderson. “It’s fabulous!”
As for libations, the café is offering keg and bottled beer and keg wine from Piccola Cellars.
Henderson emphasizes that she is keeping happy hour prices very reasonable with appetizers ranging from $3 to $6 a plate and beer at $3 to $4 a glass, while wine is $6 to $7 a pour.
“And our pours are very generous,” she adds.
The concept of offering happy hour is an idea that Henderson had been mulling about for a few years, but hadn’t acted on due to being incredibly busy with the catering side of her operations.
Then she heard that Main Street Alehouse & Eatery was moving and that became the impetus for her decision.
“With the Alehouse gone, I realized that there wasn’t going to be any place on Main Street where you could get good old American-style food — burgers, bites and brews - after 3 p.m.,” comments Henderson. She adds, “I saw the gap and knew we could fill it, so in just a few weeks, we pulled everything together to be able to open at the end of August. It’s been a whirlwind, but lots of fun.” The first evening of the café’s extended hours exceeded Henderson’s expectations.
She was delighted with the turnout, and the feedback she received from customers was overwhelmingly positive.
She says, “Everyone loved the appetizers and they really appreciated being able to have a beer or glass of wine with their food. They also commented on the relaxed atmosphere and the ‘un diner-like’ ambiance of the place.”
Henderson explains that simple things like removing breakfast items from the tables can make a big difference in creating a happy hour-style environment.
The local businesswoman has many more ideas for her cafe that she hopes to put into place in the coming months.
On her agenda is a kids’ happy hour menu that would include such items as mac ‘n’ cheese bites, chicken tenders, mini quesadillas and more.
“This is a family-friendly place,” comments Henderson, “and we want parents to be able to enjoy happy hour with their kids.”
Another idea she is getting ready to implement is a give-back promotion with the local high schools during football season, which she notes is an extension of the “from us to them” philosophy she practices.
Henderson adds, “My hope is for Alexa’s to continue to be a great community cafe. I have always viewed this place as more than a restaurant. It’s a place to share experiences with others and to find out what’s going on around town. It’s where people can connect, where locals can come together. My customers always tell me how warm and friendly Alexa’s is and that it feels so comfortable — like home — for them. That’s music to my ears.”