There’s something good cooking in St. Jacobs’ newest kitchen. Køkken Village Café is the latest addition to the town’s line-up of eateries. The operation took over the King Street location previously home to the Cake Box on Feb. 28.
Housing sleek and modern decor, Køkken (KOOG-ken) – ‘kitchen’ in Danish – is anything but cold. Owners Sandor and Jenny Dosman along with Sandor’s mother, Jette Rotholm, fill the counters with warm and inviting treats every morning.
“She was the inspiration for this,” Dosman said of his mother, who is originally from Denmark.
“I grew up with that type of food at holidays and family functions, and I thought it would go over really well.”
Rotholm is responsible for the shop’s signature creations, traditional Danish open-faced sandwiches. Made from scratch using locally baked bread, the sandwiches range from the typical ham and roast beef to sole fillets with shrimp and a Danish meatball sandwich, which is Dosman’s personal favourite.
“It’s a traditional sandwich from Denmark that you use a fork and knife to eat. It’s very fancy and very big on the garnish and the presentation,” said Dosman. “They’re fun sandwiches.”
Cupcakes, chocolate covered banana muffins and traditional Danish sugar cake are some of the baked goods on offer. All the sweet treats are baked fresh each day by Jenny before she travels to Waterloo, where she works as a full-time baker elsewhere. The long hours don’t discourage the Dosmans, who love owning their own spot.
“I’ve worked for many other people, making lots of other people rich, so now it was time to work for myself,” said Dosman.
Dosman got his start with an internship at the Ali Baba Steakhouse in Waterloo, and has been working in restaurants for almost 30 years. The work took him across the province. Now he is happy to be making traditional Danish food. Open for little more than a week, Dosman said his roasted red pepper soup has already caught on, destined to become a permanent fixture on the menu.
“Word has spread around town and everyone has come in just for that soup,” he laughed. “It’s by far the most popular (item).”
Hoping to expand his services beyond those of a lunch hotspot, Dosman has set up a catering menu on the restaurant’s website; with just 24 hours’ notice, he can bring lunch to local businesses.
“I’m out shopping every day to make sure everything is fresh,” said Dosman, who makes it a priority to bring local ingredients into the shop as much as possible.
Køkken’s menu information is available on the website and also on a Facebook fan page Dosman has established for the store. The page features pictures of the fare, specials the shop is offering and comments from fans.
Admirers of the café can bring home the Køkken experience through some of the items they stock. Currently Dosman carries Danish candies and chocolate, as well as gift items from the Momma Mar line. He uses some of the locally made food items, like the Momma Mar chutney and barbecue sauce, in some of the shop’s cooking. Eager customers can buy not only the restaurant’s ingredients but the pots they cook with, as well. Dosman sells a line of healthy kitchenware called Carico, which he uses in his own kitchen.
In addition to offering food, gift and cookware items, Dosman wants to be able to offer his customers a cold beer and unique summer fare on warm days.
“We’re going to be having a spiked hot dog,” he said. Cutting off the tip of the bun and toasting it from the inside out, the hot dog and condiments are inserted through the top, making it possible to eat it one-handed, while walking or shopping. “Kids will love it.”
The store’s liquor license is still in the application process, but Dosman hopes it will be attractive to tourists. “When woman are shopping upstairs, the guys can come down and have a beer,” he said.
Although Dosman is a little disappointed the small sidewalk won’t allow him room to have a patio, Køkken’s large front windows will offer customers a nice, air-conditioned view of the street when the warmer weather hits.
Already busy serving customers, Dosman is excited the new venture has provided him the opportunity to work with loved ones.
“We’re a family business,” he said. “She’s the pastry chef, my mom’s the sandwich maker and I’m the glue that keeps it all together.”