Not the real Wayne and Freda

Ryan and Jen Hawk of the newly opened Wayne and Freda Coffee Shop and Kitchen.

On the wings of the adage “build it and they will come,” downtown Penticton’s newly opened coffee shop and kitchen, Wayne and Freda, hit the ground running.

Created by Ryan and Jen Hawk, the name is a nod to Ryan’s grandfather and Jen’s grandmother. The open and airy space, housed in a former auto detailing garage at 105-249 Westminster Ave. W. welcomes with a gorgeous natural wood patio that leads to an interior with cement floors and lofty planked ceiling with lots of bench and bar-height seating.

Hand-painted signage and line drawings depicting various dance positions add a playful element, complemented by vintage touches referencing lake culture. And fun merchandise such as tote bags and coffee mugs keep their brand solid.

Wayne and Freda is one of several food and drink purveyors popping up along the Westminster-Martin-Winnipeg corridor. (Bad Tattoo is one of them, along with Slackwater Brewing, the soon-to-be Black Antler, The Angry Vegan, and the much-anticipated Tratto, Pizzeria Napoletana.)

The Hawks are thrilled that their master plan – to create a community hub – is coming to fruition. While looking for the right space for their business, they realized that what was lacking was a cool space for locals in the winter months, and set upon the task to create a place that was just as comfortable in June as it is in January.

On my four visits during their first week of opening, their teeming customer base ran from ages five months to 95 years, with everyone in between, and I ran into people I hadn’t seen in years.

Wayne and Freda came together relatively quickly from its February start. Ryan applied his experience opening restaurants and knowledge around construction, with Jen adding her savvy interior design skills to the blueprint. The couple has a longtime connection to the Okanagan, and felt the draw to move back to Summerland from Vancouver a few years ago. Not only to be close to relatives, and to start a new business, but to give their own children the opportunity to grow up in this amazing region.

The anchor to the hip interior is a 100-year-old ornate long oak counter, on permanent loan from the Summerland Museum. It’s where customers step right up to place their order. Caffeine is fueled by Kelowna-based roastery Tug 6 with a signature Guatemalan drip coffee elixir and Beach Cruiser espresso blend made via a slick and shiny Victoria Arduino espresso machine, the muscle behind world barista championships. Fresh beans are also available for home use.

The food menu is tidily curated with two breakfast sandwiches, a series of “toasts” and healthy “bowls” chockful of grains and vegetables.

I’ve already become a fan of the “winter toast,” a long slice of custom COBS seed bread slathered with a beet hummus and fig jam and layered with herb-roasted mushrooms, sprinkled with blue cheese and roasted walnuts surrounded by a spicy honey drizzle.

The bacon breakfast sandwich is also a winner on a floury bap bun stuffed with a free-range egg, Spades artisan bacon, cheddar and sprouts, with a grainy dijonnaise to pull it all together.

The best seller is the “spring toast” of avocado with a housemade kale pumpkin seed pesto with cucumber, tomato and greens.

The choices are well suited for breakfast or lunch, and the menu choices will evolve over the coming months to include a grab-and-go selection for home, work, the beach or the ski slopes. Baked goods from croissants, muffins, scones and cookies are also on offer along with gluten-free and vegan options.

Service is swift, knowledgeable and accommodating throughout and is a testament to the weeks of staff training – including barista training – to ensure a perfectly pulled shot every time and food on the table.

Being slammed the first weekend open can run a staff ragged, but with very few hiccups, Wayne and Freda gave me the smooth sailing impression they had been open for months. Welcome to your new happy place.

With fork and pen in hand, and a passion for culinary adventure, Shelora Sheldan, writer, cook and curious traveller, goes in search of the delectable. adventure, Shelora Sheldan, writer, cook and curious traveller, goes in search of the delectable. This column runs every other Tuesday in The Herald.

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