First Look: The new and improved Birchwood Cafe in Seward
Seward's Birchwood Cafe reopened on Tuesday morning to a beaming neighborhood crowd. Owner Tracy Singleton milled about the space, greeting former customers and commenting on small, last-minute changes that needed to be made, like finding different containers for the restaurant's new silverware.
Birchwood Cafe closed in February to renovate the 18-year-old establishment. Part of the process involved going before Seward and City Council and asking for permission to change the space's designation from a residential to commercial establishment.
"We wanted to serve more good, real food and now we can," owner Singleton says. "We really wanted to preserve the Birchwood experience."
During the restaurant's 12-week renovation period, 1,300 square feet were added to the kitchen and dining areas. Birchwood's main dining area now features longer, family-style tables and bar seating, while the new dining room to the side offers smaller seating arrangements. Additions like bold hanging lights, eerie framed paintings, and tasteful wood paneling have completely changed Birchwood's ambiance.
The expansion also allowed Birchwood to add more kitchen equipment, like a deep frier for french fries and a flat top grill for burgers and pancakes. In the past, there was only room for one baker at the location, requiring the others to work at the restaurant's kitchen space at Verdant Tea. Now, there's room for the whole family.
Veggie scramble with greens
Singleton estimates that around eight items have been added to the menu, primarily for dinner. The savory waffle Birchwood began serving at its Verdant Tea pop-up will be offered at all hours of the day and one customer insisted that Birchwood's new homemade sausage is not to be missed. The beer and wine menus were expanded and new wine cocktails will now be offered, Singleton says.
Based on the enthusiastic crowd that gathered for Birchwood's quiet reopening, it's clear the cafe favorite has a promising future in store.
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