Gayle Maul always wanted to run her own little cafe, but Yacolt wasn’t her first choice to open up shop.
“I wanted to be on the coast,” Maul laughed. “I always liked the idea of being close to the ocean, but I have too many kids in this area to ever want to leave, so I’m quite happy where I’m at.”
After 18 years of working at Vancouver’s Carol’s Corner Cafe, she saw an opportunity to finally branch out on her own last year and create the Your Double Bar L Family Cafe, with the help of a friend.
Buddy’s Whistle Stop had been a Yacolt landmark for many years before it closed on June 10, 2012.
“One of the old landlords of Buddy’s told me the space was going to be available, so I went and checked it out,” said Maul. “It was everything I wanted. A good-sized space, good setup in the kitchen and it was in good shape. So I went to the owners and we worked out a deal that let me take it over, and we went from there.”
The transition was smooth for Maul because she found the Whistle Stop in pretty good shape, needing only some minor improvements to get it back up and running.
“We only had to do some work on the refrigerator and bring in a new steam table, as well as do some cleaning and scrubbing, but for the most part, it was almost ready to go from the start,” said Maul.
Trying to replace the Whistle Stop was a tall order for Maul, though, but she was up for the challenge.
“I was coming in totally blind with no idea about how things had been with the Whistle Stop, but I know what I have to offer and it’s all about family,” she said.
Maul combined recipes from her mother, her brother and her own collection, but the identity of the Your Double Bar L Family Cafe came from her rancher father.
“He’d been a cattle rancher in Bentley, OR for his whole life and his brand was a double-bar L, so it was a perfect symbol for what I wanted to do,” Maul said.
Family also plays a key role in the daily operations of the cafe, with Maul putting in time everyday, but with a familiar supporting cast around her.
“The whole family works here,” Maul said. “My nephew, Nate, is the night cook. My brother and his kids help out and it’s good to give them early job experience for something they can care about.”
One of the potential drawbacks to working with family is having arguments and disagreements which can carry over to life outside the restaurant, but Maul said there was some initial issues that have since been sorted out.
“We only had one real blow-up that I can think of, but we’ve all been able to work and get along since we understand we’re all in this together,” Maul said. “I am very thankful for everything each of them have brought to the restaurant and how they’ve helped to keep it going.”
Maul’s approach to the food she serves is simple, make it like you’d get at home and make it fresh.
“We’ve gotten a lot of positive reaction about what we dish up because we make everything from our biscuits and gravy, chicken-fried steak, meatloaf and even our french fries from scratch every day,” said Maul. “We’re smart about how we prep our food but people know when they’re eating fresh food and when they go out, that’s what they want to eat.”
Initially being open for only breakfast and lunch, the restaurant is now also open for dinner and offers homemade ice cream, shakes and sundaes, in part, through the feedback Maul’s gotten from diners.
“When we opened, I sent feedback cards out through the local area and asked for input on what folks wanted us to do. The overwhelming thing was to be open for dinner, so we are six days a week and the response has been great,” Maul said.
With business looking good through the summer, the largest challenge for Maul is continuing the momentum into her first winter in Yacolt.
“When the weather turns up here, it tends to keep people indoors until springtime so I’ll need to look at potential things like trimming hours and other situations, in case they come up, but we hope folks will still stop in to get warm with some home cooking,” Maul said.
The Your Double Bar L Family Cafe is located at 206 N. Railroad Ave, in Yacolt and is open Tues.-Sat., 6 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sun.-Mon., 6 a.m.-4 p.m. More information can be found by calling Gayle Maul, (360) 686-0956.