Growing up in a family of great cooks, Karen Overholt always dreamed of opening a restaurant.
"As I'm getting closer to retirement I decided now was the time. I'm not one to sit idly at home, I want to serve, to be out in the community," said the longtime Kennewick resident.
Besides, just as has happened to so many of us, Overholt's retirement account took a big hit in recent years.
"I need to look to the future," she said.
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To celebrate the opening of Overholt's Washington Street Deli & Caf, the Historic Downtown Kennewick Partnership is holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 10 a.m. Friday at the caf, 424 S. Washington St., Kennewick.
The partnership is an association of businesses and individuals dedicated to preserving the historic buildings in the downtown core, but not to the exclusion of commerce. Overholt's caf is in one of Kennewick's oldest buildings. It was built in the late 1800s, began life as a farmhouse, and has been expanded and remodeled extensively throughout the years.
"But I love it. I grew up in this part of Kennewick and remember walking by this building on my way to music lessons as a girl," she said.
Overholt's grandmother, Blanch Bell, opened the Cunningham Caf in 1933 in Pasco. When street construction forced her to move, she opened the Dinner Bell in 1936. Later, after moving north, she operated restaurants in Wilbur and Odessa.
"I remember she always owned restaurants, right up until she was too old to do the work anymore," Overholt said, adding that her mother, Betty Horntvedt of Kennewick, worked as a cook for the Kennewick School District for many years.
"A lot of our family recipes have been handed down from Grandma Bell and my mother. We still use them at home and I've adapted some of them to use here at the cafe, though I've changed them a bit, put my own touch on them," she said.
One of those tried-and-true recipes is for chicken and dumplings, the regular Wednesday special at the caf. Other specials change according to Overholt's whim.
Standard fare includes hot and cold sandwiches, salads, espresso and smoothies. She also bakes cupcakes and mini cakes, just enough for four servings. Soups are made from scratch daily.
There's also a limited breakfast menu.
"My goal is to serve good, healthy food. I don't do any fried foods, except the bacon for some of the sandwiches. I try to keep my foods diet friendly," Overholt said.
Everything on the menu can be packed up to go and Overholt plans to add box lunches -- sandwich, chips, fruit and a sweet treat -- in a few weeks.
"I just need to wait for the boxes to arrive," she said.
The restaurant seats 30 and can be booked Saturday afternoons and Sundays for private parties. It has free Wi-Fi.
Hours are from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. Call 491-1400.
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