Don and Angela Davenport worked for three years to open a new cafe that will open early August.
The Alta Sierra Fitness owners knew it would take some work but never anticipated the series of personal troubles that would ensue.
One of the challenges with Cafe 8, named after the number of family members in the Davenport clan, was a zoning discrepancy because the building was not intended for food service.
“We just got into a nightmare with the county,” Angela Davenport said. “To change it, we had to do all kinds of things to the septic system. It was a long, long process trying to get through.”
Not only did the Davenports have challenges with the cafe, they also experienced a personal tragedy when their house burned to the ground in February 2011.
Angela Davenport was home alone with the two youngest children, Blake, now 3, and Emily, now 5, and was talking on the phone with the county about the cafe. She then called her husband, opened the door and saw a pitch-black scene in the middle of the day.
“It didn’t Register, and then I said, ‘Oh my God, honey, the house is on fire!’ and he said, ‘What do you mean?’ and told me to get the babies and get out,” Angela Davenport said. “I had one on each hand, and we were still all in our pajamas, went to the front yard, and my husband came tearing up the driveway.”
The electrical fire had ruined all of the Davenports’ possessions, but they were grateful for their insurance plan for responding with a check to purchase new clothes the next day.
The family received blankets and quilts from the Red Cross, stayed with friends for a couple of days and lived in the Village Inn for 10 months while their house was rebuilt.
“That was stressful,” Angela said. “All eight of us lived in probably 900 square feet, but we all get along really well. Nobody ever fights.
“It was an adventure,” she added.
A few months after the house incident, one of their sons, Cole, now 12, was walking across the street to take the school bus and was hit by a car.
“It was raining, and I heard a horrible noise, and there was a car backing into our hotel,” Angela said. “I got up, ran outside, barefoot in pajamas. It was terrifying to see (my) child laying in the street.”
Cole was transported to Sacramento for a broken pelvis, where he spent three days in the hospital.
“It was a challenge driving back and forth in Sacramento to be with him,” she said, with the added task of loading all the children in the car.
Another unfortunate incident transpired when Emily, 3 at the time, caught her finger in a treadmill when an older brother used it against orders, which resulted in skin graft surgery at Shriners Hospital for Children in Sacramento.
“Her older brother was watching her, and I was on my computer in the gym,” Angela Davenport said. “It was very, very scary. Fortunately we have an ER nurse at the gym, and they walked in minutes after it happened. I was of course freaked out, and they said to clean it up, wrap it up and take her to the hospital.”
Despite the accidents, the family has remained positive throughout everything.
“At any given time, one of those incidents could have been very fatal. We could have been sleeping (when the fire started),” Angela Davenport said. “We were just thankful to be out and alive and everybody to be safe. My daughter could have lost her finger, and we’re lucky she didn’t — and my son getting hit by a car could have been fatal. We just felt really lucky.”
Such hardship has made the opening of the cafe even more exciting, Angela Davenport said.
“We just finally passed our final inspection (Monday), so we have to go get our operational certificate, order foods and signs and open,” she said.
The cafe will offer crepes, paninis, soups and salads and meats smoked by Don Davenport with a large wood-burning competition smoker.
The cafe was Angela Davenport’s idea, after a local private real estate investor asked what the area could benefit from.
“I said I think it’d be really neat if there was a little cafe or coffee shop, and he asked if I wanted to do something there,” she said, adding that they initially were too consumed with the fitness center to make any moves.
After the investor returned and asked for a proposal and business plan, offering to pay for the expenses, the Davenports came on board.
“We said, OK, we can’t turn that down,” Angela Davenport said.
The family will work together to support the cafe, sticking together like they always do, she said.
“We’re definitely very family-oriented,” she said. “Finally it’s sinking in that this is finally happening.”
Cafe 8 will open Aug. 5 at 11859 Tammy Way in Alta Sierra.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4230.