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By Nadezhda Chayka Otterstad–
Brother-and-sister entrepreneurial partners Peter Mazur and Susanna Stepchuk last month opened Greenhouse Café, located next door to the now-abandoned Studio Movie Grill lot on Auburn Boulevard.
The café first opened June 15 and is still in its “soft opening” phase, with limited menu options although more choices continue to be added. Guests can expect various coffee and tea options, along with menu items like lox bagels, Caesar salads, Caprese sandwiches, stuffed French toast, various crepes, cookies and cakes.
The siblings purposed to design a space that was inviting with both its function and food selection. A large indoor area features plenty of seating and is filled with living plants takes up an entire wall, giving the space a unique atmosphere. Food selections offered have roots from the Ukrainian culinary heritage that both Mazur and Stepchuk were raised with.
During an interview Tuesday, Mazur described the design of the café as “everything built from scratch.” The building frontage was recently renovated by the property owner for the café and two adjacent businesses. The interior was all upgraded by Mazur, and outdoor seating and landscaping was also added.
The brother-and-sister team both enjoy the cooking process and have experience in the catering industry.
Recalling cooking for her five siblings when she was in the first grade, Stepchuk said “the gift of cooking came naturally” for her. With ease, she was able to replicate her grandmother’s cooking process for borsch and other Ukrainian favorites, also customizing the recipes to her liking.
Stepchuk and her brother Peter both went on to work with their mother in the catering business and then branched out to work in their own catering endeavors. The latest project became the Greenhouse Café.
Along with running the café, Mazur oversees the watering of all the numerous plants on the patio and in the indoor dining space, as well as overseeing the coffee side of the business. Stepchuk creates the menu offerings, cooks, and oversees the training.
The future of the area surrounding the café is uncertain, as the abandoned lot of a failed Studio Movie Grill project casts a grim shadow onto the nearby operating businesses. Most recently, the site was purchased by an Arizona-based real estate investment company, which specializes in leasing to long-term tenants, but a tenant has not yet been announced.
Initially, Mazur hoped to open the café at the same time the theater was expected to open.
“The space has promise, but when they pulled out, we had no choice but to continue to operate,” he said. “It is an eyesore and we are hoping something does come soon to that lot.”
Weeds currently grow in the lot, and a half-finished front portion of the building is impossible to ignore. But the shopping center recently added two new tenants: a nail salon opened two doors down from the café, and a discount wholesaler opened earlier this month in the former Smart & Final building.
Mazur said he and his sisters closed their catering operations during the pandemic and opened the doors of the café as soon as restrictions were lifted.
Looking to the future, Mazur plans to obtain an alcohol license and add a dinner menu. Additional new food items that Stepchuk hopes to add to the menu will be Vareniki (a dumpling with a sweet filling of fruit), borsch (a Ukrainian and Russian soup) and more varieties of crepes .
Like many restaurants struggling to find staff, the café is currently hiring for a part or full time Sous Chef and pastry chef.
Greenhouse Café is currently open Tuesday to Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The café is located at 8493 Auburn Blvd., in Citrus Heights and was formerly home to 7 Sisters Italian restaurant, which closed several years ago but still operates a mobile food truck in the area.
Greenhouse Café owners confirmed the business has no relation to another restaurant with the same name in Placerville.
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