GREEN: Blake Williams has earned his reputation as the “social director and compliment guy” at the cafe that bears his name.
Customers at Blake’s Cafe & Cupcakery on Town Park Boulevard looked forward to the 12-year-old’s effusive good wishes. Often, it is what drew them through the door.
Friday was no exception, although it would be the last day his parents, Derek and Marcie Williams, would be the owners of the business they purchased in 2009 to give Blake, who has autism, a brighter future.
“When we pulled into the parking lot, he was so excited,” Marcie Williams said. “Now we can stay home on the weekends and go back to going to church on Sunday,” she said he told her.
The past week has been a whirlwind for the Louisville couple, who announced they were closing the restaurant on its Facebook page last week — and for the two Suffield Township couples who purchased it.
The cafe will be closed today and Sunday for some sprucing up by its new owners, Mary and Paul Coward and Bob and Becky Bonheimer. It will open as usual at 8 a.m. Monday, and close at 6 p.m.
“I took our customers on an emotional roller coaster,” Marcie Williams said. “At first, our regulars were sad. Now they are happy that it is not going to close.”
Mary Coward, who worked for the Williams’ during the Christmas season, saw opportunity when she read the Internet posting. She knew immediately she wanted to buy the business.
“My first phone call was to my husband. When I told him, he said, ‘We have to do this,’ ” she said.
Her next call was to Becky Bonheimer, who has 28 years of experience in the baking business, to see if she and her husband were willing to join the couple in the enterprise.
Mary Coward, who was an office manager for a contractor in Seville, turned in her resignation on Sunday and quit work Tuesday.
“When I met Marcie, we connected and started comparing the differences in our children,” Mary Coward said.
The Cowards’ 12-year-old daughter, Macy, a student at Falcon Academy for Creative Arts in Portage County, has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, considered a high-functioning form of autism.
Macy, who is looking forward to working occasionally at the cafe, loves to cook and will shadow Becky in the kitchen.
“She asked if she could take a cake decorating class so we bought her a bakery,” Mary Coward joked.
New additions to menu
The women, who met in July when the Bonheimers rented a home from the Cowards, claim to have similar personalities and expect the foursome’s individual strengths to help them make the business successful. And their husbands, while proficient in widely different areas, have similar natures, they said.
Many of the items that have made the restaurant popular in the community will remain on the menu, with new lunch additions of homemade soup, paninis, Reuben sandwiches, quiche and salads. They also will keep popular varieties of cupcakes and add a few new ones, along with Danish pastries, doughnuts and decorated birthday cakes.
Cookies, including Becky’s famous soft sugar cookies with buttercream frosting made with a secret 200-year-old family recipe, will grace the racks in the glass display cases.
The restaurant will offer new services such as wedding and baby shower events and children’s birthday parties.
Green residents won’t forget Blake soon, as the new owners have decided to keep his name above the door.
“Why change it?” Macy asked.
The naturally shy, but always complimentary Blake steered clear of the girl on Friday, but not her mother.
“Mary, you are awesome,” Blake offered from across the room. “But I’m scared of your daughter,” he admitted before ducking into the kitchen.
Kathy Antoniotti can be reached at 330-996-3565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.