Lark Cafe brings new coffee experience
A new coffee and pastry shop has opened on Willamette Falls Drive in the heart of West Linn's Historic Willamette District.
The Lark Cafe, a sister company of the nearby Allium Bistro, opened at the beginning of August and seeks to provide a relaxing space for local coffee lovers, professionals and everyone in between to enjoy.
General Manager Bridgette Rusnac, West Linn resident and graduate of Wilsonville High School, said she and her staff trained with Coava Coffee Roasters of Portland in order to create an upscale coffee experience at a fair price, crossed with a modern aesthetic designed by owners Ian Ragsdale and Pascal Chureau of both Allium Bistro and Field & Vine Events.
Like their two other businesses, Rusnac says, Chureau and Ragsdale's newest venture will continue the trend of aiming to carry only locally sourced products focusing on the farm-to-table experience.
Rusnac says she got involved after having worked for Chureau and Ragsdale as an intern and subsequently as a client of her freelance social media management business after graduating from Portland State's School of Business Administration in 2016.
"I spent last summer going to all their catering events and hanging out at (Allium) basically managing all their social media accounts," Rusnac said. "From there I started my own business, they became a client and our relationship continued to grow. One day in a meeting, they told me they're opening a coffee shop. I told them I always wanted to start a coffee shop, and they said they needed a manager, so we went from there."
Rusnac not only has business acumen, but also has managerial experience from days working as a floor manager at the Old Church McMenamins in Wilsonville. She said juggling her time between her social media consultancy and managing Lark Cafe has been an exciting new test of her organizational skills.
Opening on Aug. 7, Rusnac said Lark Cafe's week was pretty quiet, but after three weeks they've started to pull in some regular customers from the offices above their store and other businesses along Willamette Falls Drive.
Walking into Lark Cafe, it's easy to forget they just opened. Laptops and books littered across tables with men and women working and studying. Families with children stop by for a pastry and drinks. The atmosphere is closer to that of a long-standing storefront than a coffee shop that opened merely a few weeks ago.
"Our first week was technically a soft opening, and it was pretty quiet, so we're just trying to get the attention of the people in our immediate area," Rusnac said. "We did a lot of free cookies and samples, sent out some stamp cards. There's a lot of people in the community finding us, loving it and coming back."
She said social media has had a decent impact on fostering the community's discovery of Lark Cafe, and she hopes to continue to bolster their social media presence as time moves forward.
"My favorite part is already having regulars, knowing their names and knowing their orders. That's why I wanted to get into the coffee business. I wanted to know the people who are coming in and want them to know who I am, so that's been great," Rusnac said.
Lark Cafe is open daily from 6:30 a.m.-4 p.m. They're located at 1980 Willamette Falls Drive, Suite 120 in West Linn.