The January 5th, 2021 soft launch was supposed to ease them back into business. They envisioned casual chats with customers during downtime and leisurely chats about new flavor combinations. But 60 minutes after Officer Perry cruised through the drive through and posted a few pictures on Facebook, they were slammed.
That week, Lynn’s Coffee & Crepes was featured on the news three times, serving up an average of 150 crepes a day alongside specialty coffee drinks and pastries. Nightly supply runs became the norm. Lynn even had to get another crepe pan. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I love feeding people,” Lynn said. “It’s my passion.”
For Lynn and her family, the restaurant business has been a way of life for the past forty years. Facing monsoons, jungles, and dangerous country crossings, Lynn and her husband Ling immigrated to the United States in 1979, moving to Paradise in 1980. She began work as a prep cook at a Chinese restaurant, later owning her own restaurant and eventually settling as the owner of the beloved Optimo. Although she eventually retired in 2009 and sold the business, she still owned the building and helped the new owners build relationships with the community.
“Knowing your customers, and knowing their names when they walk in the door–it’s why Paradise is such a great town.”
With more time on her hands and less time on her feet, Lynn began to dream of opening a coffee and crepes shop on the same property as the Optimo building. For the next ten years, she worked through septic systems, permits, access, loans, and construction plans. By late 2018, the concrete parking lot was poured, the buildings were erected, and the roofs were finished. There was even a “coming soon” sign posted near the front door.
And then the fire happened. The parking lot and structures sheltered dozens of people trapped at the intersection of Skyway and Clark when the flames roared through town.
“It was really a blessing in disguise,” Lynn realized. “If those buildings hadn’t been finished, there wouldn’t have been a refuge for all those people who took shelter.”
Despite losing the original Optimo building to the fire, the breakfast building survived–and Lynn knew she had to continue her reopening plans to serve those returning to the Ridge. Once again overcoming the odds, she soldiered on through insurance battles, Town recovery, health inspections, address verification, internet installation, and a global pandemic. “I told myself: ‘I’m going to do it!’” Lynn said. “We had so much community support. So many people would tell us: ‘I really hope you rebuild; you’re a pillar of the community!’”
Two weeks after opening, she couldn’t be happier with her decision. Long-time customers and friends have already been in for a handmade crepe or a cup of locally-sourced coffee, asking when the egg rolls will make it on the menu. “One customer came in and jokingly asked for the [Optimo order] #5!” Lynn laughed. “I haven’t heard that request in years!”
Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 6 a.m., will be their official Grand Opening. As more and more people come back to the Ridge, Lynn, Ling, and their two daughters are proud to be a new business offering warm meals and encouraging words to their community. “Paradise is rebuilding, and it’s going to be better than it was before. I would absolutely encourage other people to open up businesses here. We’re already an established community, but we’re also a growing one because we have to start from scratch.”
And as we all know, made from scratch always tastes the best.