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Main Street Buzz: Cafe Rowan Rock and Roll Bento Box

What does it take to make a business succeed in a location where so many others have failed? Cafe Rowan Rock and Roll Bento Box owner Neal Smith said all it takes is being a good eater and a good drinker.

The concept of the genuinely unique place is really just an extension of the Smith home. Smith, who called himself “the purveyor of peace and happiness,” sat with his wife Nancy and daughter Rowan and said, the restaurant is just who they are.

“We’re good eaters, good drinkers, good talkers, we really enjoy food and to us food is love. That’s just how we demonstrate affection to people. As soon as they breach the threshold of our doorway at home, we feed people,” Smith said.

Smith learned the value of sharing a meal from his Japanese mother and brought that into his home, he said.

“That was the impetus for the restaurant, in that, our home just wasn’t big enough to entertain all the people we had over every day,” he said.

Smith showed off his fish and chicken tacos, that you may or may not be able to get, because this menu is always changing. Smith tries to source his ingredients within 500 miles of the restaurant and the flavors change seasonally.

“We pretty much let the day and the time and the season define what we do at that time,” Smith said.

The restaurant is located in the back of Station Square, a spot that’s been notoriously bad for business, but that Cafe Rowan has made work. Smith said it was rough going at the beginning, but they got the word out by feeding people.

“We’d just make big platters of food and we’d go to different businesses and surprise people. ‘This is who we are this is what we do and enjoy. Bon appetite,'” he said.

Beyond putting together a mouth-watering plate, Smith has made his employees, Ranae Campbell and Jaymes Phillips, part of his big whacky family. He’s created a space where they all love what they do.

“What I do have is a big old–” Smith said.
“Heart,” Nancy Smith cut in.
“Appetite,” Rowan Smith cut in.
“I was going to say family, and we like to eat and we have fun when we do it and we wanted to share that,” Smith said.

Cafe Rowan is located in Station Square at 200 S. Main Street in Pocatello. They are currently open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and plan to expand into dinner. They’re also working to cater lunches at the new Allstate facility.

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