Bleu Door Bakery Express plans to reopen June 9
VANCOUVER — Bonnie Brasure wanted to be cautious, keep her employees safe, and do what was right for her customers, too.
So she closed her restaurant a few days before the state took its action during the pandemic.
It was, and still is, an emotional time.
As a business owner, she was worried. About the present. About the future.
Now, she is preparing to reopen Blue Door Bakery Express on Main Street in Vancouver. She is ready to serve her customers again.
Make no mistake, though, she has been serving this community for weeks.
Her restaurant has been closed, but her passion for food and service remained open.
It is estimated that Brasure made more than 1,500 meals over a six-week stretch for those in need. The homeless. A women’s shelter. Senior citizens.
Not just some extra food here and there, but full meals. Turkey some days. Mac and cheese another. Chili. Meat loaf. Plus desserts. And a bag of fruits and nuts.
The goal was five for 50: “We fed 50 people five days a week for six weeks.”
Sometimes, she exceeded that goal, preparing as many as 100 meals in a day.
“It’s been cool. It’s been amazing. It’s been fun. I do not do any of this for the press,” Brasure said. “I do it just because that’s what I’m supposed to do. You need to be able to give to your community.”
After all, the community around her express and cafe has meant the world to her and her business.
“I wouldn’t be here and successful nine years down the road if I didn’t live in an amazing community. They have supported me, rallied behind me,” she said. “I’m in awe of the love and support that I get from the people here. Just a great town.”
The Express has been serving the town for eight-and-a-half years. The cafe next door has been open for the past five years.
(When Bleu Door reopens on June 9, it will only be the Express side only. There is no timeline for the return of the cafe, yet, but the plan is for the cafe to resume business.)
Brasure has watched uptown grow into this tremendous place to live and work, she said.
She loved watching a man propose to his girlfriend at her place because Bleu Door was their first date. She was even invited to the wedding.
She has another regular who was not a parent when Bleu Door opened but now has two children. Brasure has watched families grow.
At one point, she did consider moving. Just because she wanted more space for her vision for Bleu Door. But nope. She just couldn’t leave this perfect location.
Then came March 19, 2020.
A customer walked in and asked how she was doing.
“I said, ‘We’re closing today …’ I couldn’t even finish talking to her because I completely lost it,” Brasure said. “I worked my tail off to get what I have and what I’ve built. It felt like I was losing everything.”
She wasn’t, she added. Just felt that way at the time.
Brasure is not one to sit around, though.
“I was going crazy,” she said.
Then the idea. She and her employees would provide for a large feed for the homeless every year for the holidays. How about feeding first responders?
Well, it turned out, there were already a lot of meals and donations for the first responders.
What about all those people she serves during the holidays?
She reached out to a friend who helps with the homeless. One call led to another, and another, and Brasure was buying food through her distributors, enough to start making meals every day.
“It just hit me … the magnitude of people who need help. And we need to help them,” Brasure said.
The pandemic, she added, showed just how many people are living paycheck to paycheck, and how it would not take long for many people to be forced into living in their cars … or worse.
Those who can, such as Brasure, want to help.
Today, she is also focusing on the return of Bleu Door Bakery Express.
“We’re going back to the beginning, going back to our roots,” Brasure said of just the Express window.
The plan is to be open Tuesday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bleu Door will have its signature sandwiches and soups, entree salads, too. Oh, and Brasure wanted to point out that they will be expanding their bread program, adding “unusual” breads.
One customer, who has been coming to Bleu Door since the beginning, already has told Brasure that she will be there that first week.
Bleu Door Bakery has been closed, but Bonnie Brasure has remained a constant in the community.