Housed in the building known as the Oakland Block, built in 1890 and listed on the National Historic Register, the space now occupied by the Old Town Cafe has been a restaurant for 90 years. In 1904, the space was one of the only African-American-owned businesses in Whatcom County, called The Mobile Restaurant. It specialized in short orders, an early form of fast food.
The space was known for its custom of open-door community through several owners during the course of the century. After The Mobile Restaurant, it was Matt and Millie’s place for about 35 years, serving the rough-and-tumble crowd from the mills. Then it became a “hippie spot” during the ‘60s and was officially named the Old Town Café in 1967. Its reputation grew as a place where people down on their luck could get a free meal. Current owner Diane Brainard began working there in the early 1990s, and bought the restaurant in 1995. While she described her early years as ‘running a café on a shoestring,’ a loyal following has allowed her to add needed items and keep a welcomed consistency to the menu. These days, the cafe gives back by supporting as many local farms and vendors as is possible, as well as continuing the eatery’s tradition of offering a free annual Thanksgiving meal to the community.
Located along the main drag of downtown Bellingham known as Holly Street, Old Town Café has long been a hot spot for the morning crowd. Grab a seat at the big community table or wait for a booth or table of your own. Old Town uses as many natural, local, and organic products as possible and makes all its pastries on-site with whole-wheat flour and unrefined sweeteners. You’ll find plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options on the Old Town menu. Local musicians can busk for a free meal in our large dining room, and you'll find locally crafted art gracing the walls, rotating every 2 months.