Esparto’s Lucy’s Cafe brings mother and son together – Daily Democrat


When Stephen Gordon decided to open his cafe in Sparto at the start of the pandemic, he wasn’t worried because he knew he had the support of his mother – Laura Gordon – and his community behind him.

“My mom being my partner in the business was almost a no-brainer,” Stephen pointed out. “If anyone was going to support me to sign the dotted line, I knew it would be her.”

Gordon moved to Santa Barbara for school at the age of 18, it was there that he found his passion for coffee working for a small local cafe called The Daily Grind for four years.

“It was my first crash course as a barista,” he explained.

Gordon eventually moved to San Diego where he would pursue his foodie career, working in almost every role he thought he could.

“I had done everything and was really trying to figure out what was going to be the future and ironically it happened in Sparta,” he said of his coffee.

Lucy’s Cafe – located at 16850 Yolo Ave. in Esparto – was created by Stephen with the help of his mother to honor his grandmother who had been an active member of the community known for her charitable deeds.

Stephen created a menu using his own recipes from artisan coffees and foods he learned from his years of experience in the coffee and food industries.

“My grandparents left a very strong legacy within my community, my friends and my neighbours,” Stephen explained. “I’d be mad to tell you I didn’t recognize him.”

He returned to Esparto after years in the culinary business in San Diego to help take over his family farm – Cadena Farms – which needed a lot of help after the pandemic began.

“Dad was dead and that was a big reason I came back,” he said. “When the cafe fell into my lap, my mum was the first person I asked, ‘Do you want to open a cafe?’ And she didn’t flinch.

Laura said she was thrilled to do something she had never done and was not worried about the circumstances of the world because she trusted her son.

“I didn’t know anything about running a cafe, but he had moved on and I knew of his experience in the industry,” she pointed out. “My thing was what do we have to lose?”

She said she was grateful to see her son return to Esparto after such a long absence and was excited to work with him on a new project.

“It was the first time we worked together because I hadn’t been with Stephen 24/7 since he left for school at 18,” Laura pointed out.

However, the process of preparing the store was “one of the best times of my life…for so many reasons,” Laura said.

“There were no plans, no plans,” she said, “I mean everything about that cafe came from our hearts and it came from how we remembered my mother.”

Stephen and Laura worked diligently to secure materials for the café before opening, spending a lot of time on Pinterest to find furniture and upcycle items from their farm to cut costs.

“Then came the coffee and the product and that’s where I saw him doing what he does best because he had – just like his grandfather – planted the seed,” Laura pointed out.

His father moved from Mexico to the United States in the 1960s as part of the Bracero program and eventually established Cadena Farms. Laura compared her son to his father because of his ability to take his experience working in the food industry for nearly two decades and apply it to his business.

Laura remarked that it was amazing to watch her son grow into the man he is now and the father he is becoming.

“I’m really proud of him and excited for the next chapter in his life,” she said.

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