Colton Café has been under the ownership of Rex and Angela Russell for the past eight years. Sunday, Oct. 13, will be their last day as proprietors, but not their last day in the café. Rex and Angela have leased, with an option to buy, the local eatery to RoAnna Voytko.

“We will continue with cooking, sharing recipes and training,” Rex said. “RoAnna is keeping on the staff—and adding as she needs to.”by: CINDY FAMA - Photo by Cindy Fama
Rex Russell (left), RoAnna Voytko and Angela Russell go over the menu and ideas before the Russells turn over proprietorship of the Colton Café to Voytko. The Russells are planning to stay on 'as long they are useful' as Voytko leases the café with an option to buy.

The Russells have been overwhelmed by the support the community has given them while they have been running the café. They especially note the fundraising concert that helped them meet the monetary challenge that came when the septic system needed upgrading.

“That was a major thrill,” Angela said. “We felt truly cared for. It was really touching, and we were so stunned and will be forever grateful.”

Angela and Rex found Colton Café by chance, but when they did, everything clicked into place.

“We had been in the restaurant business all our adult lives and were ready to own our own business,” Rex said. “We had our realtor looking in Portland but had mentioned we wanted to live in the country. He called one day and had found us five or six restaurants in small towns—but when we saw the café we knew we were home.”

Though they will miss running the business, they said it was time for them to pass the torch. Customers were asking for them to stay open longer, but the Russells felt they were getting “too old” and running out of stamina to have longer days.

This past year, before moving back to Colton from Florida, Voytko called the café, where she had worked as a teen. Things fell into place, and she came home and worked at the café as ideas and paperwork fell into place.

“This is my dream come true,” Voytko said. “When I was 14, I said that someday I wanted to own the Colton Café. My father use to bring me here every year on my birthday. It has always been a special place in my heart.”

There are some changes coming—longer hours—for now Tuesday through Sunday open 7 a.m to 8 p.m., including serving dinner. Voytko is also trying to add beer and wine to the menu, if everything works out with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

A carryout menu may also be on the horizon, along with some additional dinner items and specials. Voytko is also planning to incorporate a few more vegetarian options. Though changes are coming, Rex affirmed that all the favorite down-home cooking the customers know and enjoy would stay.

The café has become a place for local artists to display and sell their paintings. The walls are covered with an eclectic selection. Voytko, who is an artist and has had displays on the wall, is changing it slightly with plans to feature one artist per month and include special lighting to help showcase the art. She says a sign-up sheet is going around now.

The Russells will be turning over ownership on Oct. 13, and the café will be close the following week, re-opening on Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Don’t rush out to say goodbye to Rex and Angela just yet, though. “We will be around, cooking and managing, and just not as stressed,” Rex said.

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