By Kim Siebert MacPhail
Walking into Café Keresa on its first day of business last Saturday was like arriving at a very friendly family reunion or block party. That’s because, in a way, that is just what it was.
Owners Kerry Lewis and Teresa Riffe have a lot of family and friends—a lot—and a good number of them were at 119 The Great Road on Saturday wearing black aprons, serving customers, making sandwiches, washing dishes, having coffee and cannoli, talking with one another or playing quietly with the kids. Think “warm.” Think “comfortable.” Think “homey.”Much of this welcoming atmosphere is generated from the two owners themselves.
For such busy women, Lewis and Riffe seem amazingly easy-going and upbeat. It is remarkable, too, that they already partner together in another business venture: an arts, fitness and athletics outreach program called “Aspiring Artists by Nellie’s Design,” that covers a wide geographical, greater-Boston area.Add all this on top of full family-lives—Lewis has five children and Riffe has three—and you’ll get a sense of their impressive capacity, as the story of how they came to open Café Keresa further serves to demonstrate.
It all started about a month ago when Lewis heard from a friend that Café Darling was closing and the locationwould be available. That’s when she turned to Riffe and asked, “Do you want to open a café?” To which Riffe replied, without missing a beat, “Sure!”
Within an hour of this brief exchange, Reading natives Lewis and Riffe were already at the site, taking a tour, and sorting out the formalities. Family and friends were then quickly enlisted as taste testers and kitchen or café crew. “We’ve asked our kids to taste so much that they run away now if they see us coming toward them with a cupcake,” joked Riffe.
On the first day, many Bedford well-wishers came by to say “hello”, sample a panini or a muffin, and take stock of the new café.The owners reported that, in the first hours of business, they met all the neighbors and that everyone was very nice and supportive.
“We knew from the start we had to have cupcakes on the menu [because of Café Darling],” said Lewis, “and it was really funny when the guy at the gas station ran over and said, ‘Quick! I need a cupcake! I’ve got customers waiting!’”
Lines of people at one point went into the entrance hallway and people who came early returned before the day was over for another meal or dessert. “A man came in with his grandkids and left saying he’d be back later with his wife—and he was!” said Riffe.
Lewis and Riffe are happy to be in Bedford “in the middle of everything” and look forward to being part of the community. Café Keresa has table seating and Wi-Fi and has started taking orders for Christmas cookies and pastries. The porch will re-open in the warmer months for outdoor seating.
To visit their website for a more detailed look at their hours and offerings, go to: https://www.cafe-keresa.com/