Though pleased with the popularity of their pastries and pizzas, The Red Roof owners Sherry Wilmsen and Wilda Larsen wanted more from their Gleneden Beach business. They wanted to create a place where regulars can feel at home chatting, reading or working over a cup of coffee in the morning or glass of wine at night.

Over the years, the foyer has filled with donated books, while the main room hosts a slowly expanding collection of toys and games; and one corner of the room is now a dedicated kids area, complete with appropriately sized furniture.

Now, with help and input from good friends and treasured customers, the pair have come up with an idea to liven up Friday evenings.

“We started pizza night on Saturdays and that has gone great,” Wilmsen said. “That’s why we’ve added more things to our bar menu. But through that we also found that people like to just come out and connect with friends. We’ve had a few poetry readings recently and people loved them.”

So, Fridays from 5 to 7 pm will now be themed, including spoken word nights and open-mic type events. Logistics are still being completely ironed out, but the first Fridays of each month, starting this Friday, Feb. 1, will be Family Game Night.

“On this side of town there aren’t many things for families to do,” Wilmsen said. “We have a lot of regular customers that are families with kids, and people do come here and play games with their kids and really like it, so that’s why we decided to have one of the Fridays be a family fun night.”

On those evenings a few items will be added to the menu just for the little ones, based on “extensive research” (ie: asking customers with kids).

“We already had things on the regular menu for kids like chocolate milk,” Larsen said. “But on Fridays we’ll have mac and cheese on the menu and also carrots and grapes.”

And the couple, themselves not a “traditional” family, want to be clear about the target audience for these evenings.

“We’re not just talking about families with kids,” Larsen said. “Families come in all shapes and sizes and all are welcome.”

The next theme for Fridays at The Red Roof will be an open mic-type spoken word night.

“The majority of people that come in here are retired and they have had full lives, but we don’t often take time to hear their stories,” Wilmsen said. “I love to hear them and I know other people do too. We will have mics for people to use, and there will be a prize for the best story based on anonymous voting, where the winner will get either a bottle of wine or a gift certificate.”

Each night there will be different themes proffered to get the creative juices flowing, but people are more than welcome to arrive with a story already formed. In the interest of respecting the time of other speakers and human attention spans, stories should be limited to five minutes or less.

Another Friday theme still in the works has the working title “West Edge Reading Series,” and will likely feature local poets and writers.

“Our friend Chris Ransick is working on this one,” Wilmsen said. “He has events already lined up, which we will list soon. We might also have book reviews and openings for artists showing here if we can make it work.”

The cafe’s Facebook page will be the place to go to find out ahead of time what, if anything, is happening at an upcoming Friday.

Because the large open space, which once housed a church, affords lots of room for gathering, the couple planned the business to operate in dual way from the beginning. Open Wednesdays through Sundays, they serve light breakfast fare like pastries, bagels, biscuits, granola, and now eggs along with a full roster of coffee and tea selections from 8 am until 4 pm. Then, from 4 to 8 pm, the focus shifts to wine and beer with “Bar Bites,” including panini, quiche and soup selections that change frequently, and pretzels with Dijon mustard, a customer favorite.

“Even though the Friday night schedule isn’t completely done, we’re excited to at least get something going,” Wilmsen said. “Just like we do in our kitchen, we’ll see what works and what doesn’t. Our locals are the majority of what keeps us afloat, and the most important part of who we are is our connection to the community. People are always looking for food, now we’ll also be giving them something fun to do on a weekend night.”

The Red Roof is located at 7040 Gleneden Beach Loop, Gleneden Beach, and is open from 8 am to 8 pm Wednesday through Sunday. Call them at 541-614-4528.

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