Kismet Café brings local food, drinks to Whatcom Museum

Kismet Café held its grand opening on May 20. // Photo by Julia Vassallo

By Julia Vassallo

After Brandon Wicklund and Shannon Suschil stumbled across a bar called Kismet in Ubud, it made a lasting impression that inspired them to open downtown Bellingham’s newest cafe, the Kismet Café.

“Kismet” means destiny or fate, according to the owners of the café. Kismet had its grand opening in the Whatcom Museum Lightcatcher building  as a new addition to the Bellingham Arts District on May 20.

After the couple worked together at Wicklund’s previous Bellingham business, The Real McCoy, they decided to sell the bar and travel to Southeast Asia and returned with aspirations to open something fresh.

Looking to transition from late nights and spirits, the owners want to continue to build a comfortable space for friends and the community to gather for drinks, snacks and conversation, Wicklund said.

“As much as we loved making cocktails, we are excited to share and explore the world of wine, vermouths and mixing aromatic cocktails,” Wicklund said. “After spending a season working as a farmer, Shannon is excited to create dishes highlighting the delicious produce of Whatcom and Skagit county and support our hard working farmers.”

The café has three entrances: one from the sidewalk, one from the inside of the museum and one from the museum’s Lightcatcher courtyard.

“Now that we have this courtyard, especially during the summer, we want to hold a lot of events,” Suschil said. “We can give people we meet in the community a space to showcase their food, and it gives us the opportunity to support each other, especially with the museum traffic.”

Owners of Kismet Cafe Brandon Wicklund and Shannon Suschil pose for a portrait. // Photo by Julia Vassallo

Prior to the opening of the Kismet Café, the space was used as a retail-focused wine café, according to Suschil.

“The museum wasn’t entirely sure if they wanted another café space in here,” Suschil said. “It was a process. We had to meet with them and coordinate, so they were able to trust us.”

Collaboration between the museum and the cafe is important, according to Christy Ham, the membership and visitor experience supervisor at the Whatcom Museum.

“We like to offer a well-rounded visitor experience, so we were excited to have the Kismet Café come in and provide coffee, beverages and snacks.” Ham said. “I work directly with them to make sure they have what they need and we work together to make sure all of our visitors have a good time.”

Though the space was a café before, the new owners wanted to establish a new aesthetic and altered everything in the existing space besides any major construction, Suschil said. Plants and new tables were added and the couple lightened up the mood of the space during the renovation period.

“Opening a business always seems to take a little longer than expected, but we have enjoyed the process,” Wicklund said. “We are very excited about how the space has evolved into a comfortable gathering place for coffee and wine drinkers alike.”  

The Kismet Café is located on Grand Avenue and their normal hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to their Facebook page.  

“Bellingham is abundant with talented people and we love having an outlet where we can offer goods such as Raven Breads, Flying Bird Botanicals, BeeWorks Farm and Bellingham Coffee Roasters,” Wicklund said.

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