Pop-up European-style bakery in Kennewick adjusts to pandemic

KENNEWICK, Wash. — The owner of a Downtown Kennewick eatery has had to change her whole business model in order to survive during the pandemic.

Nena Cosic moved to Tri-Cities from Bosnia years ago and now runs European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena. It used to be a catering business, and then she bought a restaurant license right before COVID-19 hit so she could run cooking classes out of Red Mountain Kitchen. Last summer, she had over 200 kids take her classes.

However, catering and group classes – not good for social distancing.

“Everything I did was large gatherings,” said Cosic. “We took a huge hit during COVID.”

She decided to pivot – putting outdoor furniture around the front of Red Mountain Kitchen – and turning into a makeshift brick-and-mortar, sit-down establishment. The change hasn’t been easy.

“It’s really hard because people know me as a caterer,” she said. “People don’t know that there is a place where you can go get sit-down desserts and breakfast in Downtown Kennewick.”

Cosic also said it’s hard to predict how many people are going to come each day, and with their sprinkling of tables and chairs, they can only seat so many.

“The main obstacle that we face here is we don’t know how to prep for the day because we don’t know if people are going to come or not,” she said. “One day we were slammed with like 30 people sitting out here all at once, and the next day we had five people.”

She credited her regular customers will helping her to stay in business. She also believes she offers something special to the community, by trying to mimic a European cafe and they way they treat coffee.

“What I offer – it’s an experience,” said Cosic. “People ask me if I can sell this coffee to go, and I say no, because because I want you to slow down and sit down and experience this – it’s culture and history.”

European Desserts & Appetizers by Nena is open Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. They offer European-style desserts and coffee along with charcuterie boards and other appetizers. They’re located at 212 W. Kennewick Ave.