Creating a café experience is on entrepreneur’s new menu 

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

Nena Cosic of Pasco has operated European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena out of 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 at 4309 W. 27th Place, Suite A, in the Cynergy Centre near Southridge High School. 

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

“My dream has always been to have a sit-down café. Us Europeans live for that. We live for our lunch breaks to meet a friend or after we get off work. All the major decisions in life are made over a cup of coffee.  

“That’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 her business in a January 2020 article.

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

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

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

Cosic also plans to establish a commissary kitchen so when clients lease the space, they can bring their preferred chef. 

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

What’s on the menu?

The breakfast menu will include sandwiches, in-house croissants with cured Italian meats, frittatas, crepes with different toppings and yogurt parfaits. 

Lunch will feature small bites, spaghetti, mussels in white wine and garlic sauce, meatball subs, salads, soups and charcuteries platters – “every day, all 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 with thin layers and iced with a cream cheese-based cream, Bosnia baklava, made from her mom’s recipe, Italian tiramisu and French pastries.  

Cosic also would like to offer classes at the cafe, including charcuterie lessons. 

And she just hired a person to run an indoor-outdoor Saturday market featuring food, farmers and crafters. She expects this to open the second week of June. 

Creating an experience

“I want this place to be an experience. I want them when they leave, I want them to say, ‘I want to bring back my mom or someone I love.’ I want to create an experience and be different,” Cosic said. 

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

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

Her take on it will feature 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. The non-filtered coffee is served without sugars or creams as they take away from its earthy flavor, Cosic said. 

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

Cosic plans to staff up her eatery, from three to 10 employees. “We do expect to be very, very busy,” she said.

Café hours will be 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. 

Her previous business model was successful, but then Covid-19 hit and slowed everything. 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’s not daunted that Koko’s didn’t succeed in the location. 

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

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

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

Cosic said she’s invested her personal savings, secured a loan and received plenty of help from friends, family and her fiance, including support from her new landlords, to make Café Magnolia a success. “So much love has been coming our way,” she said. 

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

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