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An old favorite has some new flavor as Oscar Guitron takes over the ownership and operation of the Yellow Church Cafe in Ellensburg.

Guitron and his wife, Shanda Shawver, purchased the restaurant from Gordon Wollen this past November.

"I came to work for Gordy a few months previous to purchasing the business," Guitron said.

Guitron said Wollen talked to him about buying the business and he jumped at the opportunity.

"I've been cooking for more than 20 years," Guitron said. "When Gordy approached me it was kind of unexpected, but also exciting."

Guitron most recently worked as a chef at Suncadia and Swiftwater Cellars, but his career has taken him through a variety of restaurants, operations and cuisines.

"I've worked Italian, barbecue, pizza, fine dining," Guitron said. "I worked for Microsoft in corporate catering. I moved here (Kittitas County) to work at Suncadia."

Established restaurant

Guitron is taking over a restaurant with an established clientele and reputation, in a building with an even longer history.

As the name implies, the Yellow Church was once a church. The Good Hope Lutheran Church congregation met in the building for about 40 years before selling the building in 1967.

The building went through a variety of uses until it was purchased by Mark Holloway and Donna Mallick, aka D&M Coffee, in 1994. That started the building's transition to food service purposes. The Wollen family purchased the building in 1997 and established the Yellow Church Cafe.

Guitron said one of the reasons the opportunity appealed to him is because people throughout the region are familiar with the restaurant.

"I had always heard of the Yellow Church Cafe," Guitron said. "People know of it from Seattle to Portland."

Adding to the favorites

People have expectations at an established restaurant and Guitron is maintaining many of the popular items — the heavenly loaf remains — but he also is incorporating his own ideas.

"We have introduced new sandwiches to the menu," Guiltron said. "A pastrami sandwich on a homemade bun is one of our signature sandwiches."

As a chef, Guitron said he likes to make use of local ingredients.

"I'm a chef who makes use of seasonal, Northwest products," Guitron said.

The restaurant tries to stay as local as possible, Guitron said, featuring D&M Coffee, Iron Horse Brewery, Glondo's Sausage Company and Cloudview Farms products.

"I like to do specials," Guitron said.

The menu also will change on a seasonal basis. The restaurant currently is transitioning from its winter to spring menu.

Owning and operating a restaurant is a consuming task, but Guitron said he is enjoying the experience.

"It is a lot of work, but it's a lot of fun," Guitron said. "It's fun if you love what you're doing."


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