When Zeb Postelwait decided to make the jump from manager to owner of Lemolo Café and Deli on Wenatchee Avenue, he kept the name but changed nearly everything else. Postelwait owns the establishment with his brother, Avery Postelwait, and immediately decided to make changes to the eatery’s décor and menu.
“When I first bought it, it was dreary as all heck,” Zeb said. “People would come in the door and they’d frown. The ceiling was painted black with sponge paint everywhere. It was horrible ‘90s décor. So we painted everything bright and when people come in here it’s like daytime. We get smiles every time of year. Atmosphere is definitely something we wanted to change.”
Walking along Wenatchee Avenue across from the Wenatchee Convention Center, it’s hard to miss the brightly-colored chairs outside of Lemolo Café. The inside colors mirror the outside patio colors, and that is intentional.
“It’s the rainbow, it’s cheery,” Zeb said. “Everybody is welcome here.”
Another change Zeb made was to the menu. When the Postelwaits took Lemolo over in 2005, there were a mere 12 menu items. Today, there are over 100 options littered on multiple chalkboards lining the store’s walls aside pictures and artifacts from multiple generations across many genres.
The food options include everything from salads and soups to sandwiches and calzones, all MSG free with no hydrogenated oils.
“Our big thing is: make it fresh, make it good, and make it here as much as possible,” Zeb said.
The variety and options don’t stop at food, either. Have a sweet tooth? Grab a brownie. Want a beer or a glass of wine to top off your calzone or pizza? Grab a pint or three fingers. Like its everyone-included mantra, Lemolo has something for all tastes.
To make everything fresh, Lemolo takes a unique approach to its food making. Zeb cures his own nitrate-free bacon in-house and brings hundreds of pounds of produce from his own personal garden each year. Lemolo makes its own breads and doughs daily, bakes its own desserts from scratch, and even names its own homemade sauces after Postelwait family members. Zeb said that most restaurants’ foods come out of a box, are pre-cooked and pre-seasoned. Not Lemolo.
“Fresh, fresh fresh,” he said.
Longtime customer Aaron Wheeler said he goes there for a quiet atmosphere, but mostly for the delicious food.
“I go there and every day I can have something new,” Wheeler said. “I don’t think I’ll ever have everything on the menu, there’s so many, but I might be getting close. The prices are fair for what you get and I don’t know, you kind of feel like you just had a hearty meal and you don’t have to have a bunch of snacks the rest of the day. I usually sit by the window so I can watch all the other business people walk around.”
Postelwait says one of the secrets to the café’s success is the deep, and expensive, spice rack.
“Spices are expensive, and sometimes that’s why other food is kind of bland, not a lot of flavor,” Zeb said. “We have so many different spices, our food has a bunch of flavor.”
Lemolo hangs its hat on lunch. The eatery has, in the past, tried staying open for breakfast and dinner, but the response was underwhelming. Zeb said whereas the breakfast was delicious, the business operates best under current hours. He also said business has always been and continues to be very steady. He attributes the success to the delicious and fresh food, along with a loyal customer base and good employees.
Sometimes, an influx of other food options can be seen as negative for a restaurant, but Zeb said he has seen the opposite in his tenure as owner of the fresh-centric café.
“We have a great location here,” Zeb said. “Honestly, the more food that is down here, the more people that come down here for the food for lunch. I think it is beneficial for everybody, especially when you have great food.”
“Oh, yeah, I’ve been down to a bunch of places downtown for lunch over the years,” he said. “Like I said, you see a whole bunch of different people you haven’t seen in a while when you go down on the avenue for lunch. It’s funny, though, when I think about where I’m going to go, Lemolo always pops into my head first.”
Zeb and his eight-person crew at Lemolo have a deep passion for family, their employees, and the community of Wenatchee. Zeb himself has been around restaurants since the age of 9 and has donated leftover loaves of bread around Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past.
“We’re here to help out our employees and support our community,” Zeb said. “We try to support and sponsor as many of the local youth sports teams that we can as far as advertising on all their posters and everything. That’s the only advertising that we do. We take care of our employees and everyone makes livable wages. Even our dishwasher makes $14 an hour.”
Except for the leftover menu items that still grace Lemolo’s chalkboards, the original establishment erected in 1992 is all but gone, and although Zeb and the group down at Lemolo have made many changes over the years, one thing they won’t change is the dedication to freshly-made, in-house, and delicious food.
“It’s always about quality, it has to be,” Zeb said. “You give people good food and they’ll come back. It’s not the cheapest place in town, but it’s one of the better ones. It’s reasonably priced for the quality you get.”
Wheeler said the brightness of the interior and the genuine nature of the employees most likely has something to do with why he comes back time after time.
“They probably don’t know me from Larry, but I walk in there and there is always somebody laughing or having a good time,” Wheeler said. “I don’t see other places with their workers having a good time while sitting in a kitchen. I walk up to the counter and they’re always there waiting for me. It doesn’t seem like they’re trying to take my money or upsell me all the time, it’s more like they want to make sure I am well taken care of and fed. I just love that place.”