Nanae and Richard Fralick just couldn’t let the historic old inn and beloved community café fade into the annals of eateries past.
“We love the building very much,” said Nanae. “One of the reasons we got into this is we were sitting here [at the café] eating and we felt so sad it was going to go away. It was our favorite place to eat.”
While Nanae will manage the four-room inn, the Fralicks have put together a formidable team to run the café: front of house manager Sami Messinger, formerly of Portofino’s Pizzeria; breakfast chef Kevin Gregus, formerly of the Outlook Inn; and dinner chef Joe Cain, former NFL linebacker for the Seattle SeaHawks and the Chicago Bears (1988-1998).
For some, the thought of a former NFL linebacker wielding a crème brulee torch or tackling adobo chicken will be enough of a draw.
For others, it will be the place itself. It’s been a favorite with locals since it opened in 1902 and is filled with memories.
“I think the dining room itself has a special magic, a charisma,” said Nanae. “It’s always made me feel smiley. It’s one of those restaurants where you’re hugging at least three friends before you get to your seat. We’re going to try to continue that friendly and easy to access atmosphere.”
Added Richard, “It’s always been a community gathering place and that’s the reason we’re interested in maintaining it. People drop in to see their friends, get caught up and have a good meal for good value.”
The Fralicks plan to open the inn and café both on May 4. They’ll be serving breakfast from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. Wed.-Fri. and 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Sat.-Sun.; dinner will be served Wed.-Sun. from 5 to 9 p.m.
On the dinner menu will be some traditional café flavors like the West Sound burger and fish and chips; new offerings include vegetarian appetizers and main dishes. “Pasta Puttanesca” is a spicy linguine dish with prawns, basil and kalamata olives, “and the black eyed pea fritter – that’s out of this world,” said Nanae.
Cain has loved cooking since he was a kid and enjoyed sampling new cuisines during his travels with the NFL. He cut his teeth cooking for his sister’s LA catering company. He most recently cooked at Madrona Bar and Grill. This is his third year on Orcas. This is his third year on Orcas.
“It always makes you feel good on the inside when someone enjoys your work,” he said. “[Cooking] is just about as intense as football sometimes, when you get slammed. You try to stay out of the weeds.”
Breakfast promises a few surprises, as well.
“It’s not your typical breakfast,” said Gregus, a chef for the past 20 years. He said he’ll be offering “some old school mixed with some new school,” including cinnamon apple baked french toast and traditional Mexican chilaquiles with the Gregus personal touch.
Added Gregus, “This was like my favorite place to eat on the island when [original owners] Bob and Lori Breslauer were here.”
Messinger said the Fralicks’ enthusiasm for the new venture is infectious.
“It’s such a great community gathering place … it has that old Orcas, ‘come on in, you’re welcome’ feel about it,” she added.