A Recipe For Success: Fresh Local Produce and Bread, Good Coffee and The Perfect Biscuit
When Noah and Lindsey Dahlstrom moved to Leavenworth from the Seattle area, they found business space before they even had a place to live. Noah had grown up in Marblemount on Highway 20, and knew he wanted to live in another mountain town. The couple did some research and settled on Leavenworth, with its strong tourist market, for their first venture. After working in the service industry for many years, they were ready to open their own business.
The Dahlstroms opened Argonaut Espresso Bar in August 2014 in a small coffee stand that already existed, perched on the corner where Front Street meets Highway 2. At first they only served coffee, but “we realized there was a demand for breakfast and coffee,” said Noah.
Things started to change with the creation of the perfect biscuit.
Lindsey was experimenting with creating a perfect biscuit recipe at home as they worked on getting the espresso stand up and running. Once she had figured it out, the biscuit became the vehicle for Argonaut’s breakfast sandwich. This beauty became so popular that many locals (this author included) call ahead to try and snag a breakfast sandwich before the biscuits have sold out (which they usually do, but you can still get the sandwich on an English muffin if they have). The sandwich is made with a freshly baked, flaky biscuit, Olympia Provisions ham, Tillamook aged white cheddar, arugula, and a homemade sriracha maple sauce that creates the perfect sweet kick. Pair it with their Blue Star Coffee and you’ve already got a winning combination.
In May 2015, the Dahlstroms introduced their breakfast sandwich to the coffee shop, and made another strategic decision to be open every day. Those two changes made a huge difference — their small coffee stand started to gain a huge following. They expanded their menu, and continued to work out the kinks of owning a small business in a seasonal tourist town.
“We love food and we love food that has soul: when you have something and you can tell the person who made it cared about it,” says Lindsey. “All other food is a waste.”
In June 2018, the couple opened their second venture in Leavenworth: Schnitzel Boys, a sandwich and lunch shop that has proven to be just as popular as their coffee stand. Once again, the biscuit was at the center of the decision: they needed more prep space for making the biscuits for their breakfast sandwiches. Schnitzel Boys took their small but well-curated menu to the next level, using more locally sourced produce, bread, and creating their sauces from scratch. Their schnitzel is a nod to the town’s Bavarian theme, although it’s only one of many offerings on their menu. They make their own pickles, aoili and sauces, and their sandwiches and dishes are all the better for it.
“We wanted to make sure good food was available at a really approachable price point,” said Noah. “We wanted to create really good high-quality food that you could have on a weekday. That’s my favorite kind of restaurant: really good but not expensive and showy.”
When Schnitzel Boys first opened, Noah worked closely to create the menu with his friend Kevin Lobene, whom they hired as head chef. Kevin helped to create the menu and set up the kitchen, bringing some of the restaurant skills needed to get them started, especially because the Dahlstroms were busy with another venture:their new baby Margot, born 5 weeks after Schnitzel Boys’ official opening. The couple admits it’s a challenge to create a balance between restaurant ownership and parenthood, especially in a tourism town where demand is not always predictable. They cite their employees as one of the reasons for their success; having quality workers helps ensure they can manage both businesses and a life outside of work, too.
“It made it hard to give everything the attention it needed,” said Noah, about opening Schnitzel Boys and having Margot during the same summer. “Having our staff take ownership was the best part.”
Although the couple works at both locations, Lindsey is more involved in day-to-day operations at Argonaut, and Noah is now the head chef at Schnitzel Boys. Their food is a mix of fresh, locally sourced, sweet, sour, spicy and creamy, with specials that bring new flavors to the area that aren’t otherwise consistently on offer.
“I hope we can bring in some new flavors that people don’t usually have access to,” says Noah.
Argonaut Espresso Bar, 617 Front Street, is open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day. For information (or to call and order your breakfast sandwich in advance) go to http://www.argonautespressobar.com.
Schnitzel Boys Sandwich Company, located inside the Obertal Mall (220 9th Street) is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Tuesday. Starting in May, they’ll be open for dinner Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, go to http://www.schnitzelboysandwichco.com.