By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes
Birdie’s Bistro has been open just more than two weeks, but they’re already getting traffic at those non-traditional times.
(And who’s Birdie? That would be owner Shana Schmidt’s grandmother, Roberta Finlay, a longtime Salem-area resident.)
A visit at 3 p.m. revealed teenagers taking advantage of the sun via the bistro’s outdoor patio, a pair of elderly friends catching up – and three generations behind the counter.
Shana and Troy Schmidt opened the restaurant; Shana runs the day-to-day operations. Her mother, Carol Riehl, has been pitching in along with two of Shana’s children, Jacob Woodring and Morgan Schmidt. Her other children have been “helping one way or another,” Shana said.
The shop, which sells sandwiches, soups, salads, coffee, smoothies, breakfast and a host of baked goods, opened in the former Steam Heat location at 3860 River Road N., in a tan-colored strip mall that’s actually closer to the intersection of Cherry Avenue NE and Sam Orcutt Way.
Shana was a regular customer at Steam Heat, and after owner Tom Schuh closed the coffee shop earlier this year she saw an opportunity to project her own vision onto the space.
“The patio is awesome for summer,” she said. “We’ll have an awning and heat out there eventually. The fireplace is inviting. … It’s just a cozy little environment. It was the perfect size to start with.”
This is Shana’s first time operating a restaurant, but she has experience in catering and creating wedding cakes. Husband Troy’s family helped open Macleay Inn, southeast of Salem, and he’s a former manager of the Sourdough Mining Company in Anchorage. That experience helped inform her vision of opening an establishment of her own.
“I’d always dreamed of having a little bakery and coffee shop,” she said.
Shana’s meticulous nature is made apparent in the painted birds on the wall and even the way she sets out pecan rolls for photographing.
“The style of food is normal, everyday food that people like but made in a way that’s higher quality, with a lot of attention to detail and presentation,” Shana said.
Numerous items on the menu are homemade, including house-fried potato chips with a choice of sun-dried tomato or chipotle aioli dipping sauces. A daily soup special is also created in-house, along with a quiche of the day.
The menu also includes entree house, chef, citrus and wedge salads with four homemade dressings, sandwiches featuring Tillamook cheeses, and a small children’s menu.
Shana’s baked goods include cinnamon and pecan rolls and several different scones. Daily special bakery items are also available daily.
Coffee products are made from Camano Island (Wash.) Coffee Roasters beans, shipped the day after roasting. (You can see the oily goodness on the beans.)
Breakfast offerings include assorted baked rolls, biscuits and gravy, eggs, breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal with berries.