Tourist Home All Day Cafe in Flagstaff overcomes its past

In its 93 years the “Tourist Home” in downtown Flagstaff has seen its ups and downs. The last 5 years have seen more of the ups than the previous 40 years. The Tourist Home All Day Cafe celebrates its 5th anniversary since it was opened by owners Kevin Heinonen and Chris Kemmerly.

Before the pair had bought the property the boarded up house sat vacant surrounded by a yard full of weeds. Originally built by Jesus Garcia, a Basque sheepherder and his mother Isabella in 1926 as a boarding home for sheep herders who came to Flagstaff for business and to re-locate their sheep as the seasons changed. Today the Tourist Home All Day Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and brunch to locals and out – of – towners. The cafe also serves as the kitchen for the Annex Cocktail Lounge.

Kevin Heinonen before the transformation

“Tourist Home is one of the most sought after destinations, and considered a downtown gem,” said Terry Madeksza, Executive Director of Flagstaff Downtown Business Alliance.

“Not only does the menu offer exceptional baked goods, breakfast, brunch and lunch dishes, it is also a vibrant place for locals and visitors to gather,” Madeksza added.  “It is important to remember that before Tourist Home, the building was dilapidated and considered an eyesore for years. The vision and ongoing investment into Tourist Home has spurred revitalization of an entire area.” The served as a case study for the Urban land Institute as an example of private developers and city government working together for redevelopment and economic development for historic places in Arizona.

History meets modern times at Tourist Home All Day Cafe

Technology helps keep the cafe running smoothly and its historic charm  keep the cafe a relevant part of Flagstaff’s history. GM Lisa Valentine, Chief Culinary Officer Mike Schmitz and Master Pastry Chef Kat Biemann create menus and relationships with customers, staff and vendors to make the cafe successful.

“The business was and continues as an example of always meeting the changing needs of your customers,” said Heinonen.

The Garcia’s built a “Pelota” (handball) court next door for sheepherders to stay in touch with their Basque roots. Today it’s a performance stage for live music. The owners have added a fire pits, tables with umbrellas and a service window for the Annex to the outside.

The Tourist Home All Day Cafe is at 52 S. San Francisco St. Flagstaff 86001. Check out their website for more information.

 

 

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Sandy Wasserman

I've been in and around the the Phoenix wine and restaurant for over 17 years. I've seen and learned a lot and now I'm sharing it for the world to see.

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