One of the greatest rewards of interviewing people for the Huckleberry Press is the heartwarming inspiration that comes from those who are passionate about contributing to their small town communities. The husband and wife team Ian Riley and Jessica Friedland of Davenport, Washington are two such inspirational entrepreneurs.
Ian and Jessica moved to Davenport several years ago. They share a love for remodeling and designing homes. When they “fell in love” with a house about five miles out of town Davenport, they bought it on the spot and crafted it into their perfect home. Soon after, they bought a building on 6th Street in Davenport, simply because they liked the building. “It had a bit of character,” is how Ian describes it. At the time, they had no plan for the building.
Then they began to hear from community members about a “desperate need” to have a café in town, a place for people to sit down together and hang out. They came up with a business plan for a restaurant that provides, according to Jessica, “the staples of life”: coffee, ice-cream, pizza, and beer. Or as I call them, the four main food groups. After a year long setback due to COVID, in late June of this year, they were finally able to meet this local demand and they opened 6th Street Café and Pizza.
With their own love of good food, they set the highest of standards for their menu. Jessica spent over 100 hours researching the best techniques for creating the highest quality of pizzas. They went on to seek out the finest, “superior” ingredients that can’t be bought in traditional stores. Jessica, who insists she doesn’t cook, then spent countless hours experimenting with different combinations in order to get it “just right.” The end result was a line of “non-traditional” pizzas that are overwhelmingly popular. Regulars are especially fond of “The Davenport” pizza, which includes a little bit of everything. The morning regulars can’t get enough of the tasty pastries to go with their coffee.
While Ian and Jessica’s dedication for quality menu items runs deep, their deeper commitment is clearly contributing to their beloved Davenport community. In the few months that 6th Street Café and Pizza has been open, it’s already created a Cheers-like atmosphere. “I actually kind of feel like Norm,” Jessica laughs. It’s a home away from home “where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” Jessica’s favorite aspect of her role at the café is all the friends she’s made and watching others develop friendships in merely sharing a place to eat, drink, and “hang out” together. It’s “all the joy” that comes from this sense of community. Jessica and Ian say they have been “touched” by the welcoming hospitality, the amazing friends they’ve made, and by all the people who have come into their lives.
It’s not only the locals who have come into their lives at 6th Street Café and Pizza. Ian and Jessica have had the pleasure of welcoming guests from all over Lincoln County, from Stevens County, and even from Idaho. In fact, their vision includes Davenport evolving to become similar to Sandpoint, Idaho. Due to its location along Highway 2 and its proximity to Lake Roosevelt, they see no reason Davenport couldn’t be a “cool little resort town” where people come from all over to spend the weekends. For this vision, they hope to inspire other entrepreneurs to pursue their own dreams of opening clothes shops, restaurants, and other venues that would draw these visitors.
Ian and Jessica’s goals include seeing Davenport as a Lincoln County leader. They note that Davenport already has so much going for it, rural folks shouldn’t have to travel to a bigger city to satisfy their cravings for, say sushi, (Jessica’s craving) or Indian food (Ian’s craving).
But their real passion is for creating fun events for the community. They’ve made a strong start in this effort and are helping Davenport become a “hip little town” by providing a venue for live entertainment. With the help of musicians Hot Creek Duo and other local performers, 6th Street hosted a live music event attended by hundreds on September 11. Jessica described the event as so much fun that it was “truly the best day ever.” They are especially grateful to Davenport’s mayor who allowed for the street to be partially closed off to accommodate the crowd. The day started with a kid’s coloring contest, a kid’s cookie decorating party, and pumpkin themed treats.
Ian and Jessica spoke repeatedly about providing opportunities for young people in the community. They currently host a kids movie night every Wednesday and aspire to create more opportunities.
“All we want to do is create fun events for the community,” they share with zeal. And they can’t wait to create more.
With so much love and respect for Davenport, they offer the use of a community room in the back of their building free of charge for meetings, parties, and currently, a teen night. Ian and Jessica invite all locals to bring their talent or share a need for a venue. “Bring your ideas!” they encourage. “We would love to help!” Or, to those who haven’t had a chance to enjoy all 6th Street has to offer, they offer a warm welcome and invitation.
Ian and Jessica are doing their best to give back to a community who has shown them such support and generosity. They know they couldn’t have been successful with so much kindness, friendship, and small town welcome. To all of you, they “thank you” from the bottom of their hearts.