Ilwaco Bakery & Cafe

Valerie Perkins, owner

235 Howerton Ave. SE, Ilwaco


Ilwaco — Groggy fishermen now have a new place to go to grab a bite and get their caffeinated fix.

Sweet treats, savory sandwiches, smoothies and espresso are now being served fresh daily at 235 Howerton Ave. SE in the Port of Ilwaco, home of the new Ilwaco Bakery & Café.

The bakery joins SkyWater Home & Gallery, Luisa Mack Jewelry & Art and At the Helm Hotel & Waterline Pub among the new businesses to open on the port within the past year.

Busy business

A soft opening on Memorial Day in late May quickly snowballed into a day of brisk business, according to owner Valerie Perkins.

“I actually had to close because I ran out of product,” she said.

Perkins has since hired two employees to help to keep pace as she strives to keep the shelves stocked with baked goods that include cinnamon streusel coffee cake, maple pecan rolls, biscuit sandwiches and a variety of cookies, scones and muffins.

Saturdays have been the busiest days, she said, largely spurred by customers coming to shop the Saturday Market.

Buttermilk biscuit sandwiches served with scrambled eggs, Havarti cheese and a garlic-chipotle sauce, have emerged as early favorite. A veggie option, served with veggie sausage, is also available.

Teas, hot chocolate, Italian sodas, lemonade and juice compliment a coffee-based beverage menu. A dark Mexican roast from Columbia River Coffee Roaster was the chosen bean for their espresso and drip-coffee drinks after holding a blind taste test.

“When I chose the coffee, we didn’t just go by what was recommended,” Perkins said. "We taste everything. We tasted all of their coffee and this was our favorite. We’re all about quality.”

Bakery will move into bigger building

The current food-cart sized building, designed and built by her husband, is temporary until construction is complete at the bigger building next door, where they intend to eventually move the business, perhaps as early as next spring.

“What we’re doing with the food cart is an introduction for what we’re going to do in the building,” Perkins said.

“When we open the building it’s going to more of an artisan bakery for breads and different types of pastries. We will offer some lunch items too.”

A remodel project has been underway to prepare the ground floor for the business and the top floor for living quarters, where Perkins plans to live once the renovations are complete.

The building, most recently The Port Bistro, fell into disrepair in recent years after sitting vacant.

“We had to completely gut the building,” Perkins said.

“The front of the building had to completely replaced.”

Perkins said she plans to keep the ‘old port style’ building theme.

Vancouver to Ocean Park

Perkins relocated to Ocean Park about five years ago from Vancouver.

“We bought this property a few years ago and intended to open the bakery, but things came up and put us behind but we’re back on schedule now,” she said.

“We’re going to start the upstairs remodel in September and hopefully have it finished before next season. I’m shooting for April 1st.”

An opportunity to seize a prime location on the port made Perkins reconsider original plans to open the bakery in Mexico. While baking has been her passion, providing a place for community to gather has long been her goal.

“I’ve been baking a long time and opening a bakery was something I always wanted to do,” Perkins said.

Luke Whittaker is a staff writer for Coast River Business Journal and the Chinook Observer. Contact him at 360-642-8181 or

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