After several years of traveling the world and living in different countries, Wendy Kuek and her family have found the perfect place to settle and start a new business.
Kuek runs Cedar House Coffee Shop on Cedar Avenue. She and her family recently took over the shop after moving to Flagstaff last summer. The move came after years of traveling, teaching and living on five different continents. Kuek and her husband are originally from Singapore but have lived in Asia, Europe, England and the U.S.
Her daughter was working at the shop and found out that the church that ran the shop was interested in having someone else take over. Kuek, who has never run a small business before, decided to give it a go. The shop has had many lives over the years, as a local market, an antique store, a pet shop, a martial arts studio and most recently a coffee shop, she said.
“I just fell in love with the potential of the place,” she said. “It’s a great way to plug into the town and the community.”
Because the area is full of families, Kuek has tried to make the shop a family-friendly place with comfy chairs, a patio and treats. The shop is decorated with items that the family has picked up from their around-the-world travels.
“It’s a family-run business. We wanted a family-friendly culture,” she said. “We wanted to create a gathering place for the community. We’re not your average Starbucks.”
Kuek said she enjoys greeting regulars on their way to dropping off their kids at school or stopping in for a drink on their way to work. She likes how some of the stay-at-home parents come in for mid-day break and a chat with other parents.
There’s nothing better than to see a regular come through the door and know what their typical order is and to be able to start pulling out ingredients, Kuek said.
The coffee the shop uses comes from a local roaster. The breakfast burritos, sandwiches and quiche come from other local businesses.
The scones, pastries, cookies and cakes are all made in Kuek’s kitchen through her home baking business. Kuek wanted to know and wants customers to know exactly what’s in those items. That way customers know what they’re getting is wholesome and good quality food.
The tea, however, is a throwback to the time Kuek and her family lived in England. The family lived behind the plant that sold Taylors of Harrogate tea. Taylors is the official tea supplier of the Prince of Wales.
Kuek likes to feature local crafters and artists in the shop. She has silk and satin embroidered purses, lipstick cases, glasses cases and other items in one corner from a friend who brings them back from her travels to Asia. Another shelf carries hand-crafted soaps and beauty products from another local business woman. Tucked into a back corner of the shop are shelves covered with hand painted signs from three Northern Arizona University students, photographs from another artist, books from local authors and jewelry made by another local.
“I’m a local business. I like supporting other local businesses,” she said.