Window on the world

Daisy, a 15-year-old beagle, waits next to her owner, Wayne Christensen, as barista Eva Woods reaches out a walk-up window with a dog treat at Cafe Artista in Moscow on Tuesday morning. “I’ve been coming here every day for three years. The people are nice and quick. I couldn’t go in, so without the window, I would have had to find a new place to go,” Christensen said.

Casey Bartrem’s dog, Kodiak, hopped up on his hind legs and snagged a dog treat from an employee Wednesday afternoon at Cafe Artista’s walk-up window in the heart of downtown Moscow.

Bartrem and Kodiak are two of many humans and dogs who utilize the sidewalk ordering window for coffee, dog treats and other goodies from the coffee shop.

Cafe Artista, located on the corner of Third and Main streets, implemented the walk-up window on its Third Street frontage last summer while the coffee shop was still closed for indoor dining, co-owner Lisa Bafus said.

Bafus, who owns the coffee shop with her mother, Bev Bafus, said the walk-up window has helped customers feel comfortable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think it really, really helped people feel somewhat normal in such a weird, weird time,” Lisa Bafus said.

Even though Cafe Artista opened back up for indoor dining in August, some customers continue to use the walk-up window option. It was even popular during the cold winter months.

“We had quite a few customers still using it even though it was cold outside,” Lisa Bafus said. “I feel like a lot of people just weren’t comfortable coming indoors yet. ... I feel like it really helped sales improve quite a lot.”

She said many people stare at the menus in the window and are surprised when an employee opens it ready to take their order.

“The best part, and all of my employees agree with me, is the dogs,” Lisa Bafus said. “Being able to see everyone’s dogs that come by and we feed them a little treat and they get so excited.”

Bartrem said she walks Kodiak, a Malamute mix, a couple times a week from nearby Terragraphics International Foundation, where she works, to Cafe Artista’s walk-up window for a treat for Kodiak and perhaps coffee or cookies for herself.

She said Kodiak starts pulling her when they are close to the coffee shop.

Although COVID-19 inspired the walk-up window, Lisa Bafus said she anticipated it would be a long-term fix at the shop. She said if Cafe Artista ever had to shut down indoor dining for some reason, the walk-up window would serve as a temporary primary option.

“I also feel like in the summertime, especially with Farmers Market, that it will be a huge hit,” Lisa Bafus said.

She said the walk-up window inspired interior remodeling at Cafe Artista as well.

The cafe installed bar seating so customers can enjoy a cup of coffee or food item while enjoying Main Street views.

“That was always a dream of mine was to have tables where you could just sit and stare out the window,” Lisa Bafus said.

Cafe Artista also moved its bar — the counter where customers order and employees make drinks — across the room and near the entrance on the Third Street frontage. The former bar space was converted into a kitchen.

Lisa Bafus said there is now more room for employees behind the bar and in the kitchen to operate.

“Even though we did an entire remodel just for that (walk-up) window, I feel like it’s only going to just add to everything, and we were able to make the shop look exactly how we always wanted it to,” she said.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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