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New deli serves healthy, community oriented fare

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ST. IGNATIUS – “Build your own sandwiches, soups from scratch, and a little bit of love of course, which makes it taste better,” is how Janis Heffern describes her new business. 

Daybreak Deli and Floral has been open since July 2018, but it’s been a dream for much longer. Heffern was unemployed and looking for a change from her 18-year career as a bank teller when she started to ask herself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” She wanted to work with the public and provide a unique service to the St. Ignatius community. 

Heffern and her mother Bonny Richter, the only other employee of the business, had dreamed of opening a soup and sandwich wagon for years. When Heffern found an open storefront owned by a friend, she decided to chase the dream. She consulted with Lake County Community Development Corporation in Ronan, which helped her make a business plan. She spent nine months working with her brother-in-law and father to fully remodel the space to include a kitchen, a counter, a display case and a corner for selling flowers.

“There isn’t an inch in this place I haven’t touched,” she said.

According to Heffern, the community appreciates her unique offerings. Each day she has a breakfast crowd and a lunch crowd.

“New people come in every day,” she said. “We have returning customers and there are a lot of people who haven’t come in yet, so we have room to grow.”

Heffern said her homemade cinnamon rolls, which she serves on Tuesday and Thursday, have been a “pretty big hit.” Taco Thursdays also draw a crowd.

Heffern says her business filled a need for fresh, high-quality food in St. Ignatius. She makes gluten free and vegetarian items and responds to suggestions from her customers. She has a rule that she won’t serve anything fried. In the near future, she plans to offer specials and to set a soup menu each week.

“I’m trying to make it affordable for our community to grab something healthy and light,” she said. 

Heffern is dedicated to using local products. She shops for all the ingredients for her products herself. Coffee from Black Coffee Roasting Co., bread from Le Petit Outre Bakery, and ice cream from Big Dipper in Missoula are on the menu daily.

“We just want to add to our community and provide a service,” Heffern said.

The last time Heffern worked in a restaurant was when she was a dishwasher at age 14. She and Richter are learning about cooking, floral design and running a small business while on the job. “We built this from the ground up,” she said. “It’s a learning experience.”

The deli’s cozy dining area features a variety of seating options backed by a sunrise mural on one wall and paintings from local artists on another. On a Wednesday morning, Heffern served coffee to customers between her breakfast and lunch crowds. Richter prepared a to-go order and the display case held prepared servings of egg drop soup, ham soup and four different kinds of sandwiches ready to go. The building was full of life on a quiet day in St. Ignatius.

“It’s a good feeling that people are getting something unique here,” Heffern said.


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