“I just want people to feel like they’re in a magical place,” said Kirsten Norgaard, owner of Kit’s Apothecary.
That magical place is the collection of eclectic shops downstairs on 10th and Marine Drive in Astoria where Norgaard (aka Kit) has expanded at street level with a new coffee shop and gluten-free bakery. She’s also invested in two of the downstairs spaces, including Foragers and her own shop, Kit’s Apothecary, featuring her vitamins, supplements, CBD blends and Swear Word Swag.
“It’s hard to believe,” Norgaard said. “It was just four years ago that I opened my first shop! All 250 square feet of it! And with only three products. Now look at me! I’m in heaven.”
Known to many as Astoria’s friendly “Witch Doctor,” a name bestowed on her from a friend who appreciated her advice and talent for concocting herbal pick-me-ups, soothers and remedies.
“It’s not your ordinary coffee shop,” she said, with offerings including coffees, teas, tonics, tinctures and elixirs, along with special house-made gluten free treats.
“I just want people to feel good,” she said. “I thought an old-timey style soda fountain would fit the vibe I wanted.”
Mic Danielson of NorseWest Woodshop worked on the design and construction of the shop. The 12-foot tall bookshelves were “a nerd dream come true” for Norgaard, who always wanted a serious library. There’s a kitchen on site, room for two small bistro tables inside, a street-side order window, and yes, a functioning soda fountain. Bakery display cases teem with luscious gluten-free goodies, an idea that she says stems from an old family recipe for a Gooey Cake.
“Three of us in my family have celiac disease, so we are highly intolerant of gluten,” Norgaard said. “But who doesn’t want a treat every once in a while?”
A person with celiac disease cannot process the protein gluten, causing the immune system to see gluten as a threat and begin to attack it, thus making it nearly impossible for the stomach’s villi to absorb nutrients.
“That’s how my adventure with herbals began,” she said. “I decided to take matters into my own hands and change my lifestyle, trying to find solutions to stay healthy.”
Norgaard shared her Gooey Cake with friends and everyone would marvel at how it tasted like a “real” cake. They encouraged her to continue with baking the original, and other adaptations (including a bacon-maple version), with maybe a shop, “Cakes by Kit.” It didn’t happen, but her niece has assumed the baking evolution in the new venture.
“I’ve helped share my experience and knowledge over the years and now I have this awesome space to continue and help others to thrive,” she said.
“You might call this adventure a family affair,” Norgaard said. “My sister does the menu design and some product design, my niece is terrific with the baking — better than I ever was— and my brother is the brewer working on soda water on draft and kombucha on draft.”
Other brews, besides sodas, range from dense Turkish coffee, cocoas, kava lattes and special CBD blends, to a hangover healer. Norgaard still continues her health coaching and experimenting with vitamins and supplements, and dreaming up her ever-popular retail items including towels, clothing, cups and jewelry.
Some might be offended with Norgaard’s use of swear words to embellish pretty much everything, but many find it hilarious. As she explains, “Laughter is really the best medicine and swearing, too, is healthy.”
“I can’t thank the awesome people in this town enough for the opportunity to dream my dream,” she said. “This space is so wonderful, and since I have only the two tiny tables inside the cafe, I encourage people to take their drinks and treats downstairs where there’s antique furniture to relax out of the cold and rain.
“Besides, who knows what treasures and enchanted experiences you might find at Foragers or Weird Sisters Freak Boutique down there?”
Norgaard’s enthusiasm is infectious, and who wouldn’t want to take advice from this friendly Witch Doctor who declares, “Whatever mood you’re in, I want you to leave feeling better.”