Restaurant Spotlight: Maple Counter Cafe

There’s one question our guests seem to be asking lately: Where’s a good place to go for breakfast? Lucky for visitors and locals alike, Walla Walla offers a host of delicious dining options.

One of my favorite local breakfast spots is Maple Counter Café, a homey restaurant housed in a renovated transmission shop in downtown Walla Walla. You’ll be able to spot it easily—just look for the crowd of hungry customers that tends to gather outside its heavy wooden doors on Alder St.

Everything about Maple Counter is warm and inviting—from the French country-style décor, to the friendly waitstaff, to the endless coffee served with heavy cream.

I sat down this morning for a chat with owner Kory Nagler who let me in on the secret behind Maple Counter’s success: a long family tradition of outstanding service complemented by classic recipes.

Maple Counter Cafe Walla Walla

Kory and Rachel

Originally from Sequim, Washington, Kory and his wife Rachel opened the restaurant in November of 2011 after moving to Walla Walla in February of the same year.

“We fell in love, got married and decided we wanted to open a restaurant—actually I had always known that I was likely going to open a restaurant.”

Kory comes from a long line of restaurateurs—his grandparents ran a breakfast restaurant in Chicago, Illinois and his parents own the Oak Table Café in Sequim, which they opened right before Kory was born.

Maple Counter Café is part of this evolving tradition.

“That’s where the name comes from. We wanted to be different but we also wanted to be sure to pay homage in our own cute way because what we’re doing here really draws so much from the family tradition.”

Menu staples like the buttermilk pancakes, 49er flapjacks and crêpes get their fluffiness thanks to a sourdough starter

from the original family restaurant in Chicago. The style of the food and the techniques used to prepare it—thick-cut bacon, basted eggs, French-baked omelets—have been passed down as well.

But the Nagler family tradition is present in more than Maple Counter’s mouth-watering recipes and down-home cooking style.

“The secrets to hospitality, good food and all that stuff were just bred into me as a kid—it was all around me. The food is a complement to the service and to the warm feeling you want to get when you’re going out.”

And if you’ve already eaten at Maple Counter, chances are Kory’s literally had a hand in your food, working the line alongside the other chefs.

“I’m here every day.”

Maple Counter Walla Walla

Kory at work in the kitchen

He and Rachel help to foster the infectious, welcoming energy that fills the air in time with the telltale train whistle—a gift from Kory’s parents that announces the arrival of another sumptuous apple pancake and embarrasses customers on their birthdays.

At the end of our chat, Kory and I discussed some of our favorite dishes. I almost always get the quiche: rich, fluffy and whose ingredients change with what’s in season—right now it features Walla Walla sweet onions.

And what was Kory craving this morning?

“There’s sweet and there’s savory for breakfast. Today, I would say 49er flapjacks and bacon—it’s a little bit of both.”

Maple Counter Café located at 209 E. Alder St. and is open Tuesday through Sunday, 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.