The following Business Spotlight features a Q&A with Karen Deaton Perry, owner of Kayak Cafe.
Kayak Cafe is a cozy sit down cafe and gathering space for Cordova. Stop in, grab a delicious cup of one of their specialty coffees, an artisan sandwich on house-made bread, or pop by for their amazing breakfast menu, and stay a while.
What year was the business founded and why did you start the business?
I first had the idea for this business back when I was a teenager, just cruising around town with my friends wishing there was a place for us to just go chill. I mean there were always restaurants, but I really wanted an environment where I could just exist without feeling like I had to buy a full meal. Maybe somewhere with lounge seating and light snacky type foods. So necessity is the mother of invention, and I decided to just make it myself!
How has the business changed over the years?
Woo, that’s a doozy. I feel like every time I take a step I’m needing to pivot to keep up with our changing culture. The amount of times I’ve rearranged the furniture to fit a new need has been too many to count, and people are always like, “Ooh, you changed it up again!” I’ve just never been one to like things to stay “the same old, same old” for very long, so in just the over two years we’ve been open, we’ve made the transition from coffee shop, to full on cafe. I feel like anytime you start a business, what it began as is never what it ends up being, and that has definitely been true for us. When we started we only served specialty coffees and espresso drinks, and today we have a full sit down breakfast menu, an entire lunch menu, and of course coffee! During the pandemic we also saw a need for artisans across the state who were looking for ways to sell their products since their in person markets and vendor opportunities were canceled. So we pivoted again to offer a huge retail space with over 30 artisans from all over Alaska!
What are some new items or offerings you’re excited about?
We actually just partnered with Liberty’s Alaskan Seafood here in Cordova to offer these really cool “Fisherfolk’s Harvest Bags.” Essentially, what they are is branded canvas grocery bags that we fill with Copper River Salmon portions, a recipe card, and fun little extras such as a specialty dinner option for people here in town. They have this awesome display in the cafe, and you fill out this cute little menu, hand it to your barista, and they go to the back and fill your bag with frozen salmon, then you get to take it home and cook it. It’s really a great option for people who have family coming into town and want to share some authentic Alaskan Cuisine. People coming into town staying at one of the Airbnbs, or really anyone who wants some fresh frozen, authentic Cordova salmon in a really obtainable way. It can’t get much easier than dropping by the cafe picking up a Fisherfolk’s Harvest Bag and taking it home. I mean, they even provide recipes for you, it’s just so cool!
How does your business impact the community of Cordova?
I’d like to think that we have given the community a place to meet and have really beautiful conversations. Above one of our windows it reads, “A Gathering Space for Community,” and that’s truly what we’ve strived for in all of our different pivots. I want to be an innovator, community builder, positive thinker, and Cordova’s happy place. I know being a barista may just seem like a little job in the grand scheme of our economy, but one thing I tell every one of my trainees is that, we’re probably one of the first faces people see every morning, and it’s our responsibility to set the tone for their day. So in this way I take a lot of pride in helping be a butterfly effect on Cordova. I want people to leave feeling good about themselves and ready to tackle the day.
Anything else you’d like to share?
We have a really cool holiday catalog, Called “Kristmas at the Kayak” coming out with some great Cordova Gift guides. It’s a physical catalog that we have been working on for a few weeks now, and I am so excited to share it with you. I think it’s going to turn out really cool! Also, we’re hiring.
Kayak Cafe, owned and operated Karen Deaton Perry, can be found at 524 Second St. or reached by calling 907-424-3534 or online at www.akkayakcafe.com.
Business Spotlights are prepared by the Cordova Chamber of Commerce and published in The Cordova Times to highlight Chamber member businesses. If you are a Chamber member and would like to be spotlighted or would like information on becoming a Chamber member contact Cobilynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.