by Christina Jordan
A pumpkin parfait served in a canning jar is a rare sight because most parfaits are either served in a bowl, a tall glass or even a paper cup.
The Mason Jar is a family owned and operated newly opened bake shop and bistro in downtown Cheney. The family serves a variety of baked goods, paninis, espresso, beer and wine.
The most prominent feature of this bake shop is the use of locally grown foods, sourced from farmers in Cheney, Bonner’s Ferry and Chewelah.
Customers can choose baked goods that have been made fresh in the shop and that contain ingredients from these local farms
The website and facebook page are listed as “The Mason Jar.” “That is because we just want to go back to the basics, the simple way of making food, [by] getting the ingredients locally,” said Douglas LaBar, a member of the family that opened the shop.
The display case is colorful due to all the different selections. Customers can choose from devil’s food cake, pecan pie, peanut butter and jam bars, black and white angel cake, coffee cake, “sinfully rich brownies,” scones and many different types of cookies.
“I love the sinful brownie,” said Derek LaBar, who works at the shop. “It’s not dry at all and there’s so much chocolate. It’s huge and deadly.”
Customers are served while sitting at a wooden table on antique-looking blue chairs. Hanging from the ceiling are several canning jars with light bulbs in them.
The staff also puts out miniaturejars with candles in them when it gets dark outside.
The light blue walls are decorated with gold-framed pictures of the food they make and the farms where the ingredients come from.
“I have been studying food and how it affects people and the environment for seven years,” said Douglas LaBar, another member of the family that opened the shop. “We are surrounded by farmland in Cheney and yet you can’t get any food that is grown locally.”
The Mason Jar serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, beer, wine and they cater to both college students and locals.
“We hope that people will realize what they are eating and start to care,” said Douglas LaBar.
The shop combines foods and decor from many different cultures. Their coffee is Brazilian based, according to Douglas LaBar.
They serve the coffee Italian style. For example, the Macchiato is not a huge, five-layer drink, but it is made the original way using a shot of espresso and a splash of milk. The shop also uses some European traditions in their recipes.
For lunch and dinner, the shop serves paninis, such as turkey, corn beef, chicken salad and green garden paninis. They also serve soups such as tomato basil bisque, chili and peanut chicken vegetable.
The owners also grow their own herbs, like sage and parsley, in clay flower pots on the shelves of the store. Whenever the cooks need an herb, they can pick them fresh from the pots around the store.
According to the LaBars, the most popular dishes are the roast beef panini and pumpkin roulade, which is a slab of pumpkin cake with a creamy frosting on top that is rolled into a long cylinder, making each slice have a swirl of frosting between the spiral of cake. These are not always in season, though.
“All the things that are on the menu will change in the spring,” said Douglas LaBar. “That is because you are eating in season. Whatever we can get from the local farmers is what is on our menu.”
The LaBars also can their own pickles, rhubarb jam and more. They do this so that the shop will be stocked with local foods that may go out of season.
The family does not want to start a food chain with the Mason Jar. If there will be any expansion in the future, it will be to the building next door due to a somewhat cramped kitchen, according to Michael Robinson, another worker.
“We are not here to cater a 32-ounce drink to customers,” said Douglas Labar. “We want to present things [how] they were meant to be originally.”