Café des Chutes Brings Food and Festivities

The French-inspired cafe nods to local history, while creating a culture of its own.

From the ashes of the former Sparrow Bakery location on Scott St. Rose the “Cafe des Chutes.” Bought on December 3, 2021, and opened just 20 days later, 49-year-old Cari Brown will have owned the Cafe for two years in October. Where she has worked to build a fun, historic cafe that has its own personality. 

Brown was a manager and worked off and on at Sparrow Bakery for a decade. When the owners of Sparrow reached out to inform her they were closing the Scott St. location, she decided to take it on as a project and signed the lease. She had loved and curated a deep knowledge of the Sparrow environment, and wanted to create a space like it. There are many businesses on that property and they all work symbiotically. 

Cafe des Chutes itself has a positive atmosphere. 29-year-old Emily Gross and 25-year-old Lilly Hanson are both employees of the Cafe. 

“The vision and the historic place is getting new life,” said Gross. Hanson loves working there because out of the many places she’s worked, this is one of the few places that treats her like a human, not just a worker. She feels comfortable and cared about at the Des Chutes Cafe.                 

When the building was bought in 2021, there were a total of eight seats inside, and seating on the patio. Due to changes in the health department, they reoriented the front half of the building, added a marble bar looking out the window, and expanded the old backroom into more dining space. They now have over 30 seats inside, and more on the patio. 

The building itself is over 100 years old. In 1917, it was the ironworks built to support the mill and railroad tracks. Using plaster and other materials, they fixed the building up by layering. They did this to honor the history of the building, so nothing is lost in renovation.

“Cafe des Chutes” is French for “cafe of the waterfalls,” which is reflected in the European-esque design and pastries. Cari also made sure to have gluten-free and vegan items available, so no one is left without options. Along with food selection, they have quite a few drinks to choose from, including their decadent coffee. During nighttime events, they continue to serve their menu, but complemented with wine and cafe cocktails.

Night events have been hosted at the location every Friday and/or Saturday since 2011. The entire district had six years of monthly events called “Last Saturday.” On the property, there are about nine different businesses that work together to put on these events,but four of them take the lead: Cafe des Chutes, The Workhouse, Mud Lake Studios and Gathered Wears. They try to keep events innovative and interesting, with acts like live music, belly dancers, fire dancers, dance parties, artist pop-ups, performance art and poetry nights. 

The businesses around are art studios and shops. Artists make art and then showcase and sell their pieces in the front half of the buildings. Right now there are over 40 artists that work in the multiple buildings.The events held also double as an artwalk, bringing more people and opportunities to local artists. 

Mud Lake Studios is owned by 34-year-old Alica Renner. The building has been around for 20 years, and she’s been the owner for the past 6 years. She specializes in leather apparel and loves the events thrown. She describes them as “funky, underground, chill events that are like a celebration for the showcasing artists.” 

The Workhouse, also owned by Brown, has eight separate businesses inside. There are all kinds of art showcased, including letter pressing, graphic, jewelry, pottery, stained glass, recycled metal, wood, scents, tea, outdoor scenes and paintings made with only coffee and beer. 34-year-old Ashley Scholtes and Marianne Prodehl have both been with the Workhouse for 12 years. They both agree the events are “a wonderful community gathering that also brings exposure to artists.” 

The performer showcased by the event plays out on the patio with outside seating, scenery and an open space under the gazebo for dancing. The Cafe and other businesses are just a few feet away, for food and drink. There are no pets allowed inside, but they are free to sit on the outside patio. The atmosphere there is very upbeat and positive, everyone is smiling, having fun and letting loose.