After four years of serving up from-scratch breakfast and lunch dishes like poached eggs and sauteed greens on polenta cakes, or roast turkey reubens, Block's Cafe on Southeast Clinton closed its doors last week.
Owner Shana Lane-Block first opened the cafe in March 2011, giving it the name Compote and putting the emphasis on breakfast and pastries. In December 2013 she rebranded the cafe to give a renewed focus on afternoon options, including more lunch dishes and cocktails.
The cafe had a strong local following, but the mom of two says four years of long hours have taken their toll and she's ready to move on. "I'm taking some time off from this kind of venture," she says. "I just want to take care of myself a little and take care of my family. I think about had I done this when I was 25, working 16 hours a day when it was just me, it would've been really cool. But it's hard when you want to do other things. Everything suffers. The family doesn't get enough time. The business doesn't get enough time. I don't get enough time. I just want to take care of myself a little and take care of my family."
After baking for years in Los Angeles, the cafe was her first venture on her own. "There was so much I loved about it, which is why I hung on so long. We had some amazing customers, loyal and sweet, who really appreciated what we were doing. We're going to miss them a lot. That's the hardest part."
She's hoping to sell the business, or maybe even rent out the space for events or pop-ups until the lease is up. Meanwhile, she's planning on helping her mom, Gila Lane, reopen her art gallery Lane Gallery. She just moved it to a new space at NW 24th and NW Raleigh, next to Kiva Tea Bar & Spa, which is owned by Shana's sister.
Whether or not she returns to restaurant cooking is still a question mark, but it likely won't be her own venture again, at least not for a while. "I really cared about making beautiful high-quality food," she says. "And what loved was me actually making it. But it's pretty hard to run a business and be in the kitchen often."