First Look: The Ruth and Dean Cafe

You may be familiar with Ruth and Dean cakes, which have been popping up at weddings and events in Victoria over the last four years. Rustic icing details complimented by local vegetation and expressive floral arrangements have made their beautifully crafted cakes and pastries a coveted addition to any social gathering.

Ruth and Dean have now expanded their operations to a tiny yet well-appointed luncheonette on Douglas St. between Johnson and Yates. The location has been notoriously challenging for small businesses but is a welcome and refreshing addition to the strip that has long been populated by cheap fast food chains and convenience stores.

The simple lunch menu is made up of a weekly fresh sheet, which offers handsomely crafted sandwiches in meat and vegetarian options, a salad and a homemade soup. The ingredients respond to seasons and local availability and are often procured from the family garden or from the farms of close friends. If you show up early enough in the morning you may even be able to snag a freshly baked, piping hot cinnamon bun topped with a warm caramel sauce. If you happen to miss out that morning treat, there are always lovely cookie and cupcake options available throughout the day.

One of the most appealing aspects of the tiny business is the focus on family. The trio behind the café is made up of siblings, Susannah and William Bryan, and Susannah’s husband, chef Robert Smith (formerly Cioppino’s and West). The operation plays to each family member’s strength’s with Robert heading up menu creation, Susannah focusing on her beautiful cakes and pastries, and William taking care of front-of-house and the coffee program (Drumroaster). Susannah and William talked about the inspiration behind the delicate freshly baked goods as one coming from their mother, who grew up an army brat in France and Germany but cut her baking teeth in Pennsylvania’s Dutch country. Although, they agreed that the savories were never their mother’s forte, the dedication to simple, elegant and delicious baked goods are certainly presented with the family tradition in mind.

There is much in store for Ruth and Dean. The cozy and elegant interior, will be a delightful venue for Susannah’s much loved Supper Club, set to début in a few months time. The Supper Club was originally an 18-hour event held among close friends who collaborated to create the cocktails du jour and endless menu items. Ruth and Dean plan to hold similar events in 2016, turning the tiny venue into an intimate invite-only dining space that will reflect their dedication to family, friends, and community

The Ruth and Dean café now operates alongside the thriving baking business, which beautifully compliments the aesthetic and design of the cakes they are so celebrated for. It may be a tough go at the start but the excitement and vigor with which they have approached their business is contagious and leaves one in full rally for the success of the tiny start-up.

– By Jill Van Gyn


Ruth and Dean

1310 Douglas St.

Hours: Monday-Saturday 8-5pm, closed Sunday.

Instagram: @ruthanddean

Phone: 778-265-6060

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