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Salmon Arm couple combining beloved traditional foods for new café menu

Asian and European offerings paired with coffee hitting the spot for mall patrons
Frank Hartmann and Ying Fu opened Das Kaffeehaus in Centenoka Park Mall in early August. (Rebecca Willson-Salmon Arm Observer)

A Salmon Arm couple is blending cuisines from their home countries while serving up quality cups of coffee.

Frank Hartmann and Ying Fu moved to Salmon Arm four years ago, after Fu moved to Canada from China in February 2017, joining Hartmann at his Smithers home. The two wanted to enjoy a more seasonal climate and decided to move further south.

Hartmann, originally from Germany, has lived in Canada for 21 years and loves the people and the country as a whole. He said he had thought to start a coffee shop business for many years, but with family schedules and the pandemic, plans were put on hold.

The pair opened Das Kaffeehaus in Centenoka Park Mall two weeks ago and said the response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.

“We like to meet new people, hear new stories, and what is better for that than a coffee shop?” said Hartmann.

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Fu added she and Hartmann have always worked in one-on-one professions, her as a piano teacher in China and a masseuse in Canada, and him in a metalworking shop.

“We like to help one person at a time, come and go, and have a good experience,” she said.

Das Kaffeehaus offers a selection of classic café beverages and baked goods like muffins and croissants, but what draws many in is the unique food menu, featuring hot dogs, sushi and a rotating list of other Asian and European dishes.

“Ying is really into food, she loves cooking and she’s very good at it, otherwise we would not have picked a business like this,” laughed Hartmann. “She is really the base of the pyramid.”

Fu explained her passion for cooking comes from helping family members eat nutritious but tasty and appetizing meals. She said her son was often very sick when he was young, so he didn’t like eating and wasn’t a healthy weight. Her father has stomach cancer and had to have four-fifths of his stomach removed, also requiring small portioned meals that packed a nutritious punch.

She researched and leaned into Chinese teachings about food, relating to colours of food that are best for healing different parts of the body. For example, she said to eat white food for lung problems, black foods for the kidneys (especially black beans as they’re shaped like the organ), and yellow foods for the stomach.

“People getting sick, they don’t always need medicine, they may need to focus on eating healthy and fresh,” she said. “And my father is getting better. So, I share that.”

Hartmann said the food they offer is unique in town, and the coffee shops in Salmon Arm are well spread out and don’t find they have much competition with each other.

The range of Asian, western and European foods, including a traditional ‘gulasch’ Hartmann said is a personal favourite, is meant to help guests find a favourite and come back the next time it’s on the menu, or to try something new, he said. Das Kaffeehaus is not a table-service restaurant but the couple wanted to ensure a comfortable environment where mall patrons and staff can still pick up a hot lunch.

Das Kaffeehaus is open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sundays 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

“We are pretty much testing, we want to figure it out, and it will develop over time,” said Hartmann of the hours, adding it’s just their family running things for now. “But we know the direction, we know what we offer, a little bit Asian and a little bit European.”

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Rebecca Willson

About the Author: Rebecca Willson

I took my first step into the journalism industry in November 2022 when I moved to Salmon Arm to work for the Observer and Eagle Valley News. I graduated with a journalism degree in December 2021 from MacEwan University in Edmonton.
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