Business

New owner for Snoqualmie’s ‘unique’ cafe Former Isadora’s owner to pursue novel writing

Former Isadaora’s Books and Cafe owner Cris Coffing sits at one of the eatery’s tables with new owner Jody Sands. The two have a close relationship. Coffing says Sands will make the downtown mainstay even better. - Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record
Former Isadaora’s Books and Cafe owner Cris Coffing sits at one of the eatery’s tables with new owner Jody Sands. The two have a close relationship. Coffing says Sands will make the downtown mainstay even better.
— image credit: Seth Truscott / Snoqualmie Valley Record

After 18 years behind the counter at Isadora’s Books and Cafe, owner Cris Coffing is leaving to try new things.

She’s not worried about the future of the downtown Snoqualmie mainstay eatery. New owner Jody Sands is a former Isadora’s staffer who plans to keep the lunch, book and coffee shop on a familiar course.

Sands took over ownership of Isadora’s on Dec. 21.

Summing up the cafe in a single word, she describes Isadora’s as “unique.”

“This place is very special to me,” Sands said.

She grew up in Snoqualmie, and worked for the business from 1994 to 1998, multi-tasking like all Isadora’s employees — baking bread, making soup, waitressng and tending the store. For the past nine years, she was assistant manager at the Issaquah Cafe, but decided a year ago that it was time to take ownership of her own business. A casual conversation at Isadora’s one day led to the decision by Coffing to sell. The two waited a year to make sure the plan was right. Now, Sands is back in the coffee shop that she left 10 years ago.

“To be back in Snoqualmie feels good,” she said. “This place has such a good energy.”

She has no big changes planned.

“It’s an honor to carry on what Cris has done,” Sands said. “She has really nurtured the arts here.”

From the musicians who come to the open microphone nights each month, to the different artists featured monthly on the walls, “it’s a place where everybody’s welcome,” Sands said. “Come as you are.”

Writing plans

Coffing, who lives in Snoqualmie, will continue to teach ballet, tap and jazz dance at the Center for Dance in Preston, and also teaches creative movement for children at Mount Si Montessori school.

“I’ve given myself permission to pursue a writing career,” she said. “I’m working on a novel.” Set in Carnation, the story revolves around a girl and her relationship with her mother, a tarot-card reader.

The change in ownership is not much different from the way Coffing took over the business in 1990.

Coffing ran a antique shop called Little Bit of This and That, in the current location of KoKo Beans, and was good friends with former owner Judy Dammarell, who at that time ran Isadora’s as a Victorian tea shop. One day, Dammarell announced that she was selling her business. Coffing remembers she was told matter-of-factly that she was going to buy it. Being friends made the takeover fun.

In her first week on the job, Coffing introduced the lunch service that has since become the business’s bread and butter.

“I did food and antiques,” said Coffing, who had worked in the food trade since she was 14. When the rise of eBay made antiques go by the wayside, she put books on the shelves. The book business has been good for Isadora’s.

Isadora’s trademarks remain its food and atmosphere. House-made soup, house-baked bread, good service and an artistic feel are hallmarks of the place.

Another thing that makes Isadora’s unique, Coffing said, is its sense of freedom, of being a place where people can speak easy.

“We’ve had a lot of political discussions here, just basically discussions about the world,” she said.

Lunch crowds run about 30 or so daily, but the place is packed for music nights held once or twice a month.

Open mic nights are switching in February to 3 p.m. the first and third Sundays of the month.

Hours at Isadora’s Books and Cafe are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week. Lunch is served daily, and breakfast is served on weekends.

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