Convivial Cafe to open late spring on Mercer Island

October 29, 2017 | by Erin Sirianni

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No small town is quite complete without a bakery, and Mercer Island will soon be getting its own.

Recent visitors of Island Books, Terra Bella, and Homegrown may have noticed signs of a new neighbor opening in the Islandia Shopping Center. According to the blue and white window signage, Convivial Cafe will open in Winter 2018 with artisan breads, pastries, cookies, cakes, coffee, tea, and more.

More precisely described as a bakery cafe, Convivial Cafe has been many years in the making. Owner Joel Wachs has enjoyed baking since childhood and has spent recent years learning the trade from a favorite Mercer Island Farmers Market vendor.

He wrote in an email:

As far back as I can remember, I’ve always loved baking and baked goods. Whether it was making brownies and cookies with my mother, going to bakeries with my grandparents for their nearly daily loaves of bread, picking up—or, even better, making— birthday cakes, or learning the magic of flour, water, salt, yeast, time, and heat, baking has always been one of my favorite activities.

For the past six years or so, I’ve been heading to Snohomish to bake with Andy Papadatos at his Snohomish Bakery, which Mercer Islanders will know from the MI Farmers Market. I’ve frequently thought that our community would really enjoy the kind of place that Andy and his wife, Ingrid, created — delicious, made-on-site food in a relaxed, welcoming atmosphere. Four or five years ago, I even had brief conversations with Terry Moreman at the Chamber of Commerce about such a place.

Prior to his plans of opening a bakery, Wachs has contributed to Mercer Island in many capacities – as chair of the Mercer Island Library Board and the Mercer Island Open Space Conservancy Trust, as a board member of the Mercer Island Farmers Market, and as a member of the Mercer Island Town Center Visioning Group.

Photo Credit: Joel Wachs | Bread baked at Snohomish Bakery

He also served on the Mercer Island City Council for a brief period of time from January to May 2015, but resigned due to a “sudden and severe change in health.” He wrote that after his recovery from his illness, he was interested in finding another way to become active in the Mercer Island community:

“After several months of conversations with Andy and Ingrid, and seeing the perfect space near Island Books, Homegrown, and Terra Bella, I thought that opening a bakery-cafe on the Island would really work.”

Wachs chose the name “Convivial” as a word that describes his hopes for the bakery cafe: “relating to lively social events centered around food, drinks, and friendly conversation.”

He wrote: “My hope is that people will want to stop by for not only a cup of coffee or tea and a fresh pastry, but also because they hope to see friends and have an opportunity to catch up or share some news.”

Construction at the Convivial Cafe location is just beginning, and Wachs is aiming for a spring-time opening.  Along with coffee, tea, and baked goods and desserts, he also plans to offer a limited menu of breakfast items, including oatmeal and french toast, and lunch items, including focaccia, quiche, and pot pies.

Visit the Conivivial Cafe website at: