Eugene-based Cafe Yumm opens its newest restaurant in Wilsonville

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Mark and Mary Ann Beauchamp are shown here in the Wilsonville Cafe Yumm during a recent lunch hour. The cafe, located in Argyle Square, has had lunch lines out the door since opening July 7. Wilsonville’s newest restaurant also aims to be one of its healthiest.

From organic and locally sourced breads, meats and vegetables to even the repurposed wood used to build the tables and chairs, Café Yumm has a distinct identity that is tied to sustainability and health-conscious living. Founded in Eugene toward the end of the 1990s, the business has since expanded to a total of 14 locations in Oregon and Southwest Washington, with more in the works, including a Lake Oswego store slated for completion this fall.

But it wasn’t always like that.

“The reason a lot of restaurants struggle is that they have the business part and maybe not the culinary part, or vice versa,” said restaurant co-found Mark Beauchamp, a one-time finance professional who now serves as the chain’s business manager. “It’s very hard to have both and to do both well.”

Beauchamp’s wife, Mary Ann, helps take care of the food end of the equation for Café Yumm, something she has spent the past three decades doing. Her first restaurant was the Wild Rose Café and Deli, which opened in downtown Eugene in 1991. That was her first foray into sharing with the public the rice and bean dishes she had grown up with in Japan, where she was raised by a Japanese mother and her Kentucky-born father.

The Wild Rose eventually closed down. But not before one of its core concepts – the Yumm Bowl – was appropriated and expanded.

by: SPOKESMANPHOTO: JOSH KULLA - A recent lunch hour at Wilsonvilles Cafe Yumm shows just how well-received the new restaurant has been. Named simply after the typical customer reaction to her signature bean, rice and salsa dish, it remains the backbone of the business to this day. These days, though, the variety of ingredients that potentially can go into the dish is far greater than in the old days.

“People will try other things, but they always go back to the Yumm Bowl,” said Mary Ann. “If you have an experience you love, and we all do this, they want the same thing. I found people can’t break away; they love the Yumm Bowl so much they don’t want to try anything else.”

As for the business side, that was always there. Café Yumm was officially founded in 1997. But it took several years to get the business off the ground. Mark Beauchamp did the books and marketing for the business in his spare time at that point. But in 2000 he made the biggest leap of faith in his life when he quit a secure job in finance and real estate to take over the business operations of the restaurant.

“I quit my career in 2000, and we had two restaurants that were failing,” he said. “We had two bank loans and were in debt from building the business; the only way we could afford a business manager is if I quit my job.”

At the same time, the signs were already in place that the couple was on to something big. How did they know?

“The lines were out the door and we started getting calls from people because our lines were too long,” he said. “It was a leap of faith for sure, but the alternative was to walk away. But once it started, the demand was so great that we couldn’t keep up.”

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Cafe Yumm in Wilsonville will have a drive-thru window along with online ordering and take-out. Since then, the company has expanded to include five locations in Eugene, as well as Bend, Corvallis, Portland, Salem, Seattle and Springfield. Now Wilsonville joins the list and a Lake Oswego store is next on the list, Beauchamp said.

When it comes to Wilsonville, he added, a combination of factors led the company to select Argyle Square for its newest restaurant.

“Generally, the Portland market is very competitive,” Beauchamp said. “And for a small brand such as ours, early on when we started expanding we were not known at all, and finding a location and explaining who we are and what kind of food and how we do business was a real challenge.”

As the company’s popularity expanded in Eugene and into Springfield, Corvallis and Salem, its reputation grew to the point where landlords began approaching the company about potential locations. That’s exactly what happened in Wilsonville, Beauchamp said, with Argyle Square owner Bruce Burns.

“He had one pad left and was looking for a particular type of business,” he said. “And said he’d found it.”

Now Wilsonville can find out for itself just what the hype is about.


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