Café Campagne owner shares his ingredients for success

SEATTLE — Nestled in the heart of Pike Place Market, Café Campagne charms guests with traditional French fare. Executive chef and owner Daisley Gordon believes the key to his success is never giving up.

“It’s challenging being a Black business owner, it’s challenging being a restaurant owner,” said Gordon.

August is National Black Business Month, highlighting the importance of supporting Black-owned small businesses like Café Campagne. Gordon started at Café Campagne in 1995 as a lead cook after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and never predicted he would one day be the owner.

“Who would have thought that a kid born in Jamaica and raised in Kentucky would be running a French restaurant in Seattle and been the chef for 20 years,” said Gordon.

Throughout his time at the French bistro, Gordon credits his mentors for giving him the opportunities to grow as a chef and leader. He has also spent a significant amount of time traveling to France and dining, which helps to influence the menu and keep the food relevant for guests.

“One of our great satisfactions is when people from France come and dine here and they go, ‘This is kind of familiar,’” said Gordon.

The 56-year-old is proud to serve a slice of France to locals and visitors from around the world.

“It’s pleasing to them and it pleases us. That’s the thing we continue to do, is our best of delivering an authentic experience,” said Gordon.

From cooking to delivery, the pandemic forced Gordon to get creative in order to stay in business. That included creating a takeout menu and special boxed meals to go, then hopping on a bike to make deliveries within a 1.5 mile radius of his restaurant.

“It was challenging, you have to put aside whatever pride or pretention you have and go, ‘what can I do, what is necessary?,’ and that’s what I did,” said Gordon.

It’s a struggle felt by restaurants across the country. According to a report by the House Small Business Committee, 41% of Black-owned businesses closed from February to April of 2020, the biggest closure rate compared to any racial group. COVID-19 only magnified long-standing inequalities that made it difficult to survive.

“It’s the struggle that makes you stronger, you know, and every time you make an accomplishment you are building your muscles for that fight, so keep going,” said Gordon.

Café Campagne reopened in June for indoor dining with safety modifications to follow the latest health guidelines. Being able to adapt to all the changes brought on by the pandemic has been difficult for owners like Gordon, who understands how crucial it is to never give up and transform challenges into opportunities for growth.