The Medford Food Co-Op will soon be opening a cafe in the yellow building at left, next to the co-op on Riverside. [Mail Tribune / Andy Atkinson]

Your table is (almost) ready

The Medford Food Co-op patrons who have clamored for a cafe are about to get their wish.

The Café at Medford Food Co-op, a 30-seat, 2,000-square-foot venue at 945 S. Riverside Ave., is due to open by Halloween.

From the co-op's inception in August 2011 there has been demand for a dining option said, marketing manager Halle Riddlebarger.

"Every time we've done a survey, our members and shoppers have said that's what they want," Riddlebarger said.

The co-op's board approved the project last year, and J.B. Steel/Batzer Construction oversaw the remodel of space previously used for storage.

Manager Chris Bradbeer has been fine-tuning menu items and recipes for the past three months. He hopes to have the menu finalized next week.

"The menu will be eclectic with a broad spectrum of items," he said. "We'll focus on making things from scratch — both for in-house dining and take-out — with natural and organic products."

The desire, of course, is to source as much produce and other products locally, he said. Coffee and espresso along with bottled drinks, including kombucha, will be augmented with beer and wine offerings.

The cafe will operate 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week to start, although breakfast hours could expand once a regular clientele is established.

Lunch will be the focus in the beginning with hot and colds bars, offering soups, entrees, salad options sold by the pound, and prepacked items for people on the run, he said.

"I think take-out orders will make up about two-thirds of our business at the start," Manager Chris Bradbeer said. "We're definitely focusing on lunch right now. Then we're looking to after-school and work for people taking food home for family dinner. As people get to know the location, it will possibly be half and half."

To facilitate the take-out business, Bradbeer anticipates using a texting or email ordering system.

"We want to try to avoid phone calls," he said. "That's not a very good use of anyone's time."

Bradbeer will oversee a 10-person staff. Bradbeer most recently worked in food service at Southern Oregon University. Before that, he worked at Agave Restaurant in Ashland during its expansion to larger quarters.

All told, he's been involved in a half-dozen start-ups and transitions. He ran his own restaurant in McCall, Idaho, from 2009-11, called Northwest Passage and Lakeside Dining Lounge.

"If I'd opened in 2011, instead of 2009 (the heart of the Great Recession), I'd still be in McCall," he said.

Parking won't be an issue now that the co-op has parking on the east side of the store accessible from the WinCo Plaza.

"There is twice as much parking now than when the co-op first opened," he said.

The organization will delve into catering as well, he said. "That way we can offer everything on large scale."

— Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or Follow him on Twitter at, and on Facebook at

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