It’s not uncommon for families gathering for a meal to say “grace” — a short prayer or a thankful phrase before or after eating. For Phil and Karla Strang, their new venture into the restaurant business is not only a way for them to honor the memory of Karla’s mother, Grace Roling, but also to offer grace to the Cascade community that collectively gathered the Roling children under its protective wing when Karla’s mother died.
“Grace’s Place” will open its doors to the public Saturday, Aug. 8 at 325 1st Avenue W, the former home of PePaul’s Café and El Barrilito. Unlike the two previous tenants, the Strangs have ties to the Cascade area, as well as restaurant experience.
The Strangs decided to get into the restaurant business to address a need they saw in the community. “Cascade needs more options for food right now.” Karla said, “We named Grace’s Place after my mom. Mom died at the age of 37. Dad was left with eight kids at the age of 42. Because Mom died so young, a lot of people in Cascade looked out for us. They would let our dad know if they saw us, and if we were up to trouble or behaving. A lot of them were our second families. There are too many people to even mention. For me, Grace’s Place is a way of giving back to those people.”
Much of their experience and menu items — which Karla describes as “good home-cooked meals, with the basics like hamburgers and french fries — comes straight from the Roling home. “Mom always had notes for us when we got home from school, telling us what to throw in a pan for supper; she drove bus after school,” Karla explained. “All of us girls were cooking at a young age. After Mom died, we were making the suppers and feeding Dad and the rest of the kids. Dad learned how to be a great cook too. Nobody starved so we must have been doing something right.”
There will be plenty of “family flavor” cooked or baked into the various menu items, and it’s that sense of family the Strangs experienced in Cascade that guided their decision to open a restaurant.
“Phil and I both moved back to Cascade in the mid- and late-90s to raise our kids and be with family. Cascade is a community about families and Grace’s Place is about family. My sister is making pies and desserts, several nieces will be waitressing and washing dishes, my sons and their girlfriends will be helping out from time to time, and my amazing God-daughter has been making uniform shirts and painting the awnings. We have good friends that are working for us and watching over the place when we can’t be there. It’s one big family.”
Along with cooking for her Dad and siblings, Karla began working at Bob’s Café when she was 14, and later worked at Marilyn’s and Club 528, along with a few more while in college and afterward.
Following its planned Friday, Aug. 7 soft opening, Grace’s Place will be open Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. There will also be lunch specials from Monday through Friday.