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Owner Sarah and
her kids, Maya,
Lauren and Ryan in
2015, after opening
Chomper is named
after Ryan, our
Updated family photo!
Nick, Lauren, Ryan,
Dean, Sarah and
family photos by Bluebird of Happiness Photography
Hello! I get a lot of questions about my background and why I opened a restaurant! I'll start with telling you a little bit about me. My name is Sarah, I own Chomper Cafe, and I have lived here for most of my life. I was born in Palm Desert (oh NO, another Californian!) My mom did not want to raise her kids in southern California because of how much it was changing, so we moved to Coeur d'Alene in 1985. Other than living in Spokane for about 8 years, I've been here in Idaho ever since. It's where I'm raising my kids now. I love the mountains, the lakes, the rivers, the smiling people, the fresh air, the community. The Northwest really is one of a kind.
I worked at the Cda Papa Murphy's throughout high school and realized I loved customer service, which is certainly not the case for everyone. I moved to Spokane shortly after high school and got it in my mind that I must work at a restaurant. I applied at just about every single restaurant in Spokane daily, only to be shut down each time because I didn't have any experience. After about 4 months, a friend told me I should apply at Europa, where she worked. I got the job! I started out bussing and eventually did just about everything there throughout my 8 year employment- serving, bartending, bookkeeping, managing. This is where I decided that I wanted a restaurant of my own someday. I learned absolutely some of the most valuable business lessons from my manager Steve Wills and owner Janice Maas. I will be forever grateful to both of them and everyone else there too. I followed Steve to Rock City Grill for a bit after Europa, but ended up working at Cottage Cafe for my then brother and sister in law. My 7 years at Cottage were awesome. I really cannot even begin to thank everyone there for how much they enriched my life. I gained incredible insight into the inner workings of how to run a breakfast restaurant. My in laws and brother in law were instrumental in teaching me the rest of what I needed to get started myself. I purchased some recipes, learned more about numbers and profit margins, and then it was time to find a home for this idea.
I live on this side of town and as I drove by the farmhouse in front of the barn on Stoddard Park, I noticed a "For food and beverage lease" sign up. I drove past so many times, each time hushing any idea that this could work for Chomper. Finally one day, I decided it couldn't hurt to at least look inside. I called the City of Hayden, as they own the park, and we set up a tour. The building was set up as an office space, the city was using the garage (now dining room) for storage, but the second I walked in, I knew this place was for us. As we walked through, I knew exactly how Chomper would be laid out. Connie, with the City of Hayden, had the vision of a restaurant on a park and how wonderful that could be for our community. I agreed wholeheartedly and this had to be our spot. The City was taking proposal submissions and I squeaked it in just under the deadline. I enlisted Ali with Aha Creative to help me format my submission, (this is not my strong suit, and she's AMAZING). Connie called me several days after submissions, and let me know that they had accepted my proposal! I remember every detail of that sunny afternoon. I balled my eyes out! At this point, this was about a 15 year labor of love and it was coming together.
Now, before we secured the lease, I had to get a loan for construction and equipment. I'm a first time business owner and I'm not a franchise. Can you guess what every bank said to me? Yep, each door closed with an apologetic "we'd love to fund you, but we just can't." Most restaurants fail. I understood. It didn't stop me though. Ron Jacobson, who was then with INB, said the exact opposite. He thought it was a great concept and that our community would benefit greatly. One step closer!
After about 6 months of construction we opened our doors on April 3, 2015 and I am in awe every single day. Chomper is a collection of everything I've learned in my life so far, every restaurant I've worked at or had the pleasure of dining at, what it's like to eat out with kids, or alone and a lifelong pursuit of making someone's day better. We have the most wonderful customers in the world, truly. My heart bursts when I see kids playing in our little play kitchen in the dining room- "feeding" other customers their delicacies. Getting a hug from one of you after you've enjoyed your meal, is one of my favorite parts of the day.
We have the most amazing staff. They all live and breathe this industry and it shows. They care about you and your life too. It's not just about serving you a quick meal. When you walk in our doors, it should feel like home. Thank you for sharing your lives with us. We love seeing pictures and hearing about grandkids. We want to know how chemo is going and we are hopeful with you. We are in this with you. We really are.
If you are still reading, WOW, thank you! If you got nothing else from this, I hope you are reminded that you and your dreams are important. Don't give up. What is meant to be will work itself out. There are so many people on this journey that I absolutely wouldn't be here without. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart to all of you for all your support. What would life be like without the hurdles, right? One thing is for certain though- we are all in this together. Much love to you.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that the small, everyday decisions we make, like what we eat, can be the most important ones. At Chomper, we want to feed you and your family the best possible food we can get our hands on. We are actively making choices that will better your body and our community. Here's a little bit of what we have been up to. Thank you for taking the time to check us out.
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