Ilow-key locals Kelly Stronk and Ben Butler recently opened LoKey Cafe, a keto-friendly take-out cafe at the corner of Lincoln Street and Riverside Avenue in downtown Spokane.
The couple were always talking about business ideas for a bar, restaurant or cafe.
Stronk says they’d be like, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we did that’ or ‘Spokane doesn’t have that'”, but they haven’t moved forward on any of those ideas until recently.
The concept started during the initial COVID-19 shutdown when Stronk lost 30 pounds by eating at home and tracking his macronutrient intake. However, she found herself gaining weight after restaurants reopened and she started eating out again.
“I couldn’t find no place where I could be, OK, this is what you eat,” Stronk says, referring to traditional menus with no nutritional breakdown of foods. “Then let’s do it ourselves.
While exploring potential locations for the cafe, Stronk mentioned to Butler that the location of the now closed Next Door Espresso would be his dream spot. Two weeks later, she discovered it was for rent. LoKey Cafe opened on December 28, 2021.
The two experimented with home-cooked recipes to bring a new look and taste to keto-friendly options in Spokane. Thus, the menu moves away from traditional bread-based café dishes, instead offering salads, egg bites and chia puddings, all made fresh daily.
Egg bites aren’t a new concept, but the couple’s creative vision is. Butler’s favorite, the Monte Cristo ($7), is the perfect example. Monte Cristo Egg Bites feature all the classic sandwich ingredients: smoked turkey, prosciutto and Swiss cheese, topped with strawberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar.
LoKey also has fun and fresh salads, including Stronk’s favorite: Lemon Blueberry Kale ($12). Baby kale is tossed with blueberries, Cosmic Crisp apples, smoked blue cheese and sunflower seeds, and served with a homemade blueberry and avocado vinaigrette. There’s also the option of adding a side of sous vide chicken breast or marinated and roasted tofu. This salad is the perfect combination of salty and sweet, says Stronk.
LoKey owners understand the value of consistency, so popular items like chia pudding and a bowl of veggies will stick around while others are tossed around. The cafe offers a full line of filter coffee and espresso from Indaba Coffee Roasters, as well as hot and iced tea from Spokane-based Revival Tea Co.
The two deliberately started their menu small so as not to overwhelm new customers, but they plan to expand with new items. One idea mentioned by Stronk is the addition of “hearty and hot” comfort foods that are filling and nutritious. She hopes to add a micro-salad to the take-out selection this summer, featuring seasonal produce from local farms. Both appreciate the importance of sourcing local products and use local suppliers whenever possible.
“Knowing that we have taken a place [Next Door Espresso] that’s held on for so many years and taken the opposite turn and made it something people want to come to, it’s fresh and clean and progressive…” says Stronk. “I get chills when I think about it.” ♦
The LoKey Cafe • 903 W. Riverside Ave. • Open Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. • Facebook: The LoKey Cafe