POULSBO — A medical center seems an odd place for a gourmet dining spot, but Cafe Incognito makes it work every day. Opened Aug. 2, 2006, the coffee and sandwich shop has done steady business ever since, building up followers over time.
And, as its name suggests, the cafe is somewhat hidden in the North Kitsap Medical Center, something that owners Peter Fitzgerald and Angelo Bellah have not found to be a hindrance.
“We do a really consistent lunch, and we draw a pretty steady stream throughout the day,” Fitzgerald said. It’s not hard to see why lunch is a popular meal at the cafe, with things like freshly made paninis daily, a variety of cold sandwiches, soups and salads, most of which come with the special rosemary roasted almonds that seem to be a trademark of the shop. With a background in cooking, Fitzgerald brings his experience of working at the Bainbridge Island restaurant Four Swallows to the mix, while Bellah, an ex-radiology technician, brings energy and further restaurant experience into the business.
“The end product is pretty nice,” Bellan said, speaking of both his and Fitzgerald’s tendency toward perfection. “We thought the presentation of our menu shows what we can offer. Because we have a limited space, we can’t get as creative as we’d like, or as complex.”
“We do do some things, like we grill our own eggplant,” Fitzgerald added. “We buy fresh produce every day from Central Market. We like to stay community oriented.”
The duo also has pies from Bainbridge Island’s Blackbird Bakery, and other items for sale, all from local businesses or vendors.
“We keep it as local as we can,” Bellah said. “We want to stay connected to the local businesses. We work on the basis that a strong community is good for everybody involved.”
Currently, the two entrepreneurs are working to keep their first cafe going, but Bellah said the two have thoughts of expanding, adding cafes to different medical centers around the county. The idea to provide coffee and good food in situations when there usually isn’t a restaurant nearby drives the idea, he said.
“This is really the ultimate great step we’re making,” Fitzgerald said. “We’re making it work right now, but we definitely want to expand. We’re constantly being told we should expand, people keep coming back with their friends, they really seem to like what we offer.”
Though space is limited during busy lunchtime rushes, the cafe is open and airy, with plenty of books available to read. Both Bellah and Fitzgerald encourage customers to linger, taking their time with a sandwich, coffee and reading material.