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Creating a coffee experience is on the entrepreneur’s new menu

A determined Tri-City entrepreneur changed her business model and business name and signed a three-year lease in a new location to launch it.

Pasco’s Nena Cosic has been operating European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena from the Red Mountain Kitchen in downtown Kennewick for the past four years.

It will reopen as Café Magnolia, hopefully by June 1, in the space recently vacated by Koko’s Bartini in 4309 W. 27 Place, Suite A, in the Cynergy Center near Southridge High School.

Café Magnolia will be a sit-down location for coffee and food in a “feminine, elegant, French-themed” setting.

“My dream has always been to have a sit-down café. We Europeans live for it. We live for our lunch breaks to meet a friend or after leaving work. All of life’s big decisions are made over a cup of coffee.

“It’s kind of my idea. I want people to slow down here,” said Cosic, a Bosnian refugee who has lived in the Tri-Cities for more than two decades.

The Tri-Cities Area Journal of Business featured his company in a January 2020 article.

Bulldog Signs and Graphics in Kennewick installed the new Café Magnolia signs on April 7. (Courtesy of Café Magnolia)

A complete renovation is underway to transform the restaurant and patio into a European look and style. Cosic declined to share details, saying it would be a surprise.

Café Magnolia will offer breakfast and lunch, a catered menu and will transform into an event space after 5 p.m.

Cosic also plans to establish a commissary kitchen so that when customers rent the space, they can bring their favorite chef.

The cafe will feature a full espresso bar, drive-thru window and patio seating. Cosic said she also applies for a liquor license to serve wine and beer.

What is on the menu?

The breakfast menu will include sandwiches, homemade croissants with Italian cold cuts, frittatas, pancakes with different toppings and yogurt parfaits.

Lunch will include small bites, spaghetti, mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, meatball subs, salads, soups and charcuterie platters — “everyday, all the day,” Cosic said.

European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena is known for its elaborate charcuterie platters for home and events and its handmade desserts, including Spartak Cake, made in thin layers and glazed with a cream cheese-based custard , Bosnian baklava, made from her mother’s recipe, Italian tiramisu and French pastries.

Cosic would also like to offer coffee courses, including deli courses.

And she just hired someone to run an indoor and outdoor market on Saturdays with food, farmers and artisans. She expects this to open the second week of June.

Create an experience

“I want this place to be an experience. I want them to go, I want them to say, ‘I want to bring my mother back or someone I love.’ I want to create an experience and be differentferent,” Cosic said.

Nena Cosic said these handmade copper coffee pots were flown in from Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, to be used in her new cafe to serve Turkish-style coffee. (Courtesy of Café Magnolia)

One of the ways Cosic aims to create a special experience is by serving Turkish-style coffee.

His view will include handmade copper coffee pots and coffee imported from Bosnia.

Water is boiled on the stove top and the grounds are dropped into the hot water. Unfiltered coffee is served without sugars or creamers because they take away its earthy flavor, Cosic said.

“It’s kind of like homemade espresso without the machine, but less strong,” she said.

Cosic plans to staff his restaurant with three to ten employees. “We expect to be very, very busy,” she said.

The cafe hours will be 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Its previous business model was successful, but then Covid-19 hit and everything slowed down. The pandemic put her a year and a half behind her plan to open a sit-down restaurant, she said. But it also gave her time to figure out what she wanted to do next.

She is undeterred that Koko didn’t make it to the location.

“I don’t see it as a bar at all,” she said.

She thinks the cafe’s proximity to Southridge High School, several medical practices including Trios Southridge Hospital and the Gesa Carousel of Dreams, for which they already host many catered events, is ideal.

She bought Frost Me Sweet’s food truck a month ago, and it’s already booked for private dining events for the next two months.

Cosic said she invested her personal savings, secured a loan and received lots of help from friends, family and her fiancé, including support from her new owners, to make Café Magnolia a success. “So much love has come our way,” she said.

“We plan to be here for many years to come.”

Richard Dement

The author Richard Dement