April 15th, 2024

Sweet treats from a new family business on Baker Street

A bakery counter with a display case full of goodies.  There is a tin ceiling with plants and pendant lights hanging from it.  A menu is displayed on two screens.
Get it made to order, or pick something from the Grab-and-Go. Photos courtesy of Baker Street Cafe.

“You are exactly where you need to be” reads a colorful photo wall in McMinnville’s newest cafe, and if you’re tempted by things like fresh fruit-filled danishes; tall pastel cups of bubble tea; and Thai summer rolls with peanut sauce, you’ll want to be there, too. 

The new destination is Baker Street Cafe, opened on Valentine’s Day by Fon Khunsamart and Thomas Gilstrap with the help of their three sons Aiden (9), Ares (8), and Asher (4). The family lives in Forest Grove but both for fun and as a feature of her work as a real estate broker, they come to the area often. “We love McMinnville. I just kept looking at this building. When it became available I said, ‘Ok boys! We’ve got our dream!’” 

Fon grew up in the restaurant business. When she was a child in Thailand her mom had a street food stall and after the family moved to the U.S., she helped them open Portland’s Thai PK, named for her father’s initials. She and Thomas met in another of the family’s restaurants, EZ Thai in Coos Bay, where she was working and he was a customer. Slowly she said, laughing, “We pulled him into [it], too.”

Though her extended family still runs these restaurants as well as Pac Thai in Forest Grove, Fon said that their dream has been to open a place of their own. She wanted their sons to have the same sense of ownership over the business she felt growing up. 

When 205 Southeast Baker Street became available they bought it and have been working since last summer to build the daytime destination they’ve been dreaming of. 

They brightened the space with white paint, blonde wood benches and bistro tables, and a coral pink door. A ton of greenery, boho furnishings, and window decals were the finishing touches. “This is our concept, ” said Fon, “we want to be bright, light, and fun.”

The menu is inspired by the family’s travels and home cooking. The star is boba tea, the world famous Tiawanese drink with bouncy, chewy pearls of tapioca at the bottom. There are tea options, espresso ones, and a whole menu of fruit smoothies and chocolatey milkshake-style options. 

Thomas and the boys are in charge of the self-serve case of pastries and they fill it with puff pastry danishes, soft cinnamon rolls, cheese and bacon turnovers, marshmallow treats, and generous brownies. 

Fon is the chef behind the cafe’s brief menu of savory snacks. For breakfast there’s a soy sauce-spiked Thai omelet over rice and breakfast sandwiches. Come lunch, there’s egg fried rice, pork and vegetable gyoza, simple pastas sauced with cream or marinara, and summer rolls or chicken with her family’s peanut sauce recipe, all packed to-go. 

“We started with what we love, what we like to do,” Fon explained, the opening menu reflects “my ideas, Thomas’ ideas, [and] the kids’ ideas.”

A cozy nook in the corner with a rattan bench, flanked on either side by large plants.  The wall behind it is painted to say 'You are exactly where you need to be'.  The top of the wall and archway next to the bench are covered with different shades of pink roses.

Need a recommendation? Aiden and Ares are already customer service pros and can tell you the house favorites. The cafe is kid friendly; there are even some books and toys for little visitors, very much in keeping with the family business model. 

The cafe already has online pre-orders set up and they have plans to add a grab-and-go case with salad rolls and containers of curry. Eventually, said Fon, they hope to expand the menu, but until they can hire and train some additional staff they’re keeping things simple and waiting to hear customer feedback. 

“We want to connect with locals and introduce ourselves.”

Visit Baker Street Cafe
205 Southeast Baker Street
Wednesday – Sunday 11:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Emily Teel writes about cooking and dining and develops recipes on behalf of national brands. Mom to a toddler, she’s also an avid gardener and loves to forage for mushrooms in berries in the Pacific Northwest.