New downtown Hoquiam restaurant stresses health first

The space that once housed Hoquiam’s Oriole Cafe is now home to a new restaurant, Backstage Cafe. The new eatery offers a variety of healthy options, including fresh juice, smoothies and organic meals.

Owner Luis Mestas, who also owns the Lighthouse Ballett Academy, said he opened the cafe to enhance Hoquiam culture and create an “artsy” place where people can meet and have a good time. He also hopes to inspire locals to eat healthier so they can live longer, more productive lives.

“Almost everybody needs something,” Mestas said. “They need more energy and they need to lose weight. Some people don’t even have the energy to smile. I wanted to support that aspect of health that comes with healthy eating.”

“It’s hard to see people dropping like flies because of cancer this, cancer that,” he added. “I think it’s definitely related to what we eat.”

Mestas said he learned about healthy eating from his grandmother, who was strong and energetic even as she entered old age. He said her health could be attributed to her diet — which consisted largely of fruits and vegetables.

This is Mestas’ first foray into the restaurant industry, so he hired Grays Harbor native Jenny Foster to manage the cafe.

Foster has worked in the business for more than 20 years, and said she’s excited to bring healthy eating to Hoquiam.

“The first thing we did when we started working here was get rid of the deep frier,” Foster said. “There will be no deep fried food here.”

Foster’s daughter is a student at Mestas’ ballet school, and when he heard about her experience and their shared vision for a healthy eatery, Mestas asked Foster to help get the business up-and-running.

“He asked me if I could cook, and I said I can. And we’ve been working non-stop ever since,” Foster said.

For lunch, Foster and her crew prepare a variety of healthy sandwiches. For dinner, the cafe offers Italian-themed food such as spaghetti.

Foster said she hopes to start selling home-made bread in the future.

But the duo see Backstage Cafe as more than just a place to grab a healthy bite to eat. Mestas and Foster both said they hope to make the restaurant a cultural hub where local groups can host meetings.

They both identified themselves as Christians, and said they want to host wholesome, family-friendly events.

“We want to hold a couples night where people can celebrate their marriages,” Mestas said. “Traditional marriages between a man and a woman — the way God intended.”

The restaurant was renovated with new paint and carpet, and a small stage was installed. Mestas said he hopes the stage will be used for singing, dancing and other performances.

“I see such potential for people to come in and do great things for the community,” Foster said.

Backstage Cafe is located at 708 J St. in Hoquiam and is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.