After her husband passed away from complications with Leukemia in the beginning of 2010, Makayla Hopper decided she needed to continue with the dream she and husband Brian had of having their own barbecue business.
In August 2010, Hopper was able to start up Holy Smoke...It’s Big B’s BBQ, a barbecue food cart that she ran out of a food trailer that was given to her by members of City Harvest Church in Vancouver and a smoker that she was able to purchase with donations from family and friends. Soon after getting her food cart up and running, Hopper became the first person in Battle Ground to be permitted for a food cart in the city. Although Hopper and her husband’s long-term dream had always been to open an actual barbecue restaurant, she was happy with running her food trailer and doing catering and she planned that one day down the road she might be able to open a restaurant.
On Aug. 22, 2012, the dream of having a restaurant became a reality when Hopper opened Alderbrook Cafe as a year-round restaurant in Alderbrook Park in Brush Prairie.
“It’s kind of crazy,” Hopper said about opening the restaurant. “It just kind of came to me, I wasn’t even out there looking (for a restaurant). I was just doing small caterings and I had the big smoker that I listed on Craigslist and the owner of the park saw the ad and wanted to buy it to use for weekend events. We got to talking and I talked about running a restaurant and how I couldn’t do it on my own. He told me they were trying to think of a way to have the restaurant (Alderbrook Cafe) open year round and he asked if I would be interested. I sold my smoker and I got a job out of it, too.”
Alderbrook Cafe had previously been only a seasonal restaurant, but is now open year round under Hopper Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
“It’s right along the lines of what I can handle,” Hopper said of the cafe. “It’s a nice cafe and it has beautiful ambience. It’s not a huge restaurant, it’s perfect.”
Hopper will offer her Kansas City-style barbecue items at the cafe, including brisket, pulled pork, ribs and some barbecued chicken. In addition to barbecue items, Hopper said she will also have an “assortment of items to eat that will please everyone’s taste buds,” including Philly Cheese Steaks, meatballs, cheeseburgers and hamburgers, Chicken Parmesan, soup and sandwich combos and more. In the future, she said she also hopes to add some more items, including possibly clam chowder on Fridays.
“We’re just testing everything out right now and we’ll go from there,” she said.
Hopper said she hired about five or six people to work at the cafe with her and she said she is also able to use some of Alderbrook’s catering staff during the week. She said her two sons, little Brian and Lucas, now 9 and 7, are excited to wear their Alderbrook T-shirts and enjoy being able to play at Alderbrook Park.
Although the cafe is only open weekdays right now, Hopper said she plans to wait and see what business does and she might consider opening on Saturdays in the future. When asked what she thinks her husband Brian would say if he saw how far she had come with the barbecue business, Hopper said she thinks he would be “left without words.”
“I think he would say, ‘I knew you could do it,’” she said. “In a way, I think he would also be surprised to see everything that I’ve done, but he would still tell me he knew I could do it.”
Alderbrook Park is located at 24414 NE Westerholm Rd., Brush Prairie.