The owners of King’s Café & Bakery will miss many aspects of operating what they describe as a comfortable and safe gathering spot, but remain hopeful about the building’s future.
The downtown Cambridge City eatery closed Aug. 4 after just over four years in its current format.
Jill and Jim King say they are open to any great use and future for the historic 109 W. Main St. structure, and they’re seeking the next owner to build new businesses there.
“A restaurant to use all that we put into the building would be great, but we see other possibilities as well,” Jim said.
The Kings said they were happy to build upon the efforts of Daryl and Stacey Bertsch, who previously sold many flavors of fudge, ice cream and sandwiches in that location as Main Street Sweets.
Before reopening as King’s in June 2019, extensive renovations took place to the approximately 160-year-old building, ranging from renewing the floor to new electrical service and large water heaters.
Many of the improvements weren’t visible to customers, such as two very large kitchens with all-new infrastructure and a fire-rated ceiling as prep for build out on the second and third floors.
Other projects made the public space more inviting and accessible. Jim describes raising the ceiling on the first floor back to its 14-foot height as a significant improvement, as well as opening two new restrooms meeting Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
However, after pouring energy and resources into the building, the timing of launching the restaurant was not on the Kings’ side. Eight months after opening with what they call a hardworking team, February 2020 was their first profitable month.
Then, COVID hit the next month, prompting a closure. After reopening, employee availability became an issue and costs of food, utilities and overall operations continued increasing, Jim said. The restaurant employed 25 people in its first year and had 14 when it closed.
“Although we did have spurts of growth, revenue didn’t recover to pre-COVID numbers and for various reasons we didn’t get into a rhythm that would provide a sustainable business model for the cafe,” Jim said. “We gave it many tries and hoped the market would be more supportive, but it’s now time to move on.”
The Kings said the cafe attracted those looking for a place to relax, meet friends, work or study.
“We love and loved the cafe,” Jim said. “We believe many people do and did. Holiday times were special. We will miss the warmth of the cafe glowing outwardly at night with the cafe lights coming through the decorated glass storefront onto a wet or snowy street.”
Jim said local business owners and their employees were very supportive and a daily part of the cafe, enjoying coffees, baked items, lunches and to-go orders.
Although many residents of Cambridge City and surrounding towns were regular customers, most dining at King’s were from out of town, he said.
The couple will miss seeing their frequent guests and the throngs of people enjoying the cafe during special events such as Canal Days or antique fairs.
“The liar’s table was a hit for a long time, and we were blessed to have a fantastic group of town ‘luminaries’ enjoying coffee and sharing their own views of the day’s events,” Jim said. “ … We will miss so many team members who were the soul of the cafe, people that worked to make the place like home, people that created great food, people that worked hard, and we thank each for what they brought to the cafe.”
A version of this article appeared in the August 16 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.