Jazzy Ladies Cafe and Coffeehouse started with friendship, and it shows. The restaurant is bright and cozy, sitting in a sunny pocket of downtown Eugene. It’s a dream come true for two longtime friends, Michelle Reid and Carmen Nasholm.
Reid and Nasholm opened Jazzy Ladies in 2015, after daydreaming for more than 20 years about owning a coffee shop together. Once their kids grew up and moved out, the friends made their dream a reality, and decided to take their business one step further. “We thought we were opening a coffeehouse, but we really opened a restaurant,” Reid says.
In 2018, Nasholm retired to spend more time with her grandchildren. Despite losing an owner, Michelle Reid’s love for cooking up creative dishes and drinks means that the cafe is still just as jazzy. “I think the heart and soul in the business is connecting with the people we get to feed,” Reid says.
Being downtown is one of Reid’s favorite parts about the restaurant. The Lane County Farmers Market is just steps away every Saturday, and she uses that to her full advantage. “We keep trying to be creative,” Reid says. “I like to have fun with food.”
In the spring, Reid decorates her seasonal peaches and cream waffles with fresh peach slices. Side dishes feature broccoli in the warmer months, while roasted Brussels sprouts star in the winter. Reid’s passion for local food led to one of their most popular menu items: the butternut squash latkes Benedict, a vegetarian dish featuring local squash.
“What I wanted was a beautiful plate of food that really respected the fact that these people didn’t eat meat,” Reid says. Thus, the butternut benedict was born, topped with a poached egg, vegetables, and a hollandaise sauce made with local eggs from Creswell. Reid goes beyond vegetarianism in most of their dishes. Almost everything on the menu is, or can be, gluten-free, showing her consideration for those with dietary restrictions.
“Being able to meet people’s needs like that, because I have food allergies, is really important to me,” Reid says. “It’s really special to me for them to come in and experience delicious food that doesn’t taste like cardboard.”
Reid isn’t just a cook; she frequently puts on her bartender hat. Jazzy Ladies lives up to its Roaring Twenties name by offering classes on pre-Prohibition cocktails.
Reid says she’s always been interested in mixology, but her passion really emerged when she took classes from a Portland bartender specializing in pre-Prohibition cocktails. She then brought her new knowledge to the Jazzy Ladies menu.
She’s also hosted a whiskey cocktail tasting class, complete with a history of the Old Fashioned. There’s also been a class titled “The Mystery and the History of the Gin Martini.” She even hosted a 1920s Prohibition party—flapper costumes encouraged. Attendees not only learn the background of drinks and see them being made, they get to sample them as well.
“It’s just so much fun,” Reid says. “There’s so much history and really fun stories and information about alcohol and how we use it in the United States.”
She hosts new classes regularly, which you can find on the Jazzy Ladies website. You can also sample some of the pre- and post-Prohibition drinks if you visit the cafe. Reid’s attention to local produce extends to her drink menu—the mimosas are made with fresh fruit purees, and the restaurant crew makes the Bloody Mary mix in-house.
“We’re just having fun finding and learning what people like,” Reid says.
Reid and Nasholm’s dedication to their customers has paid off. Over the years, the restaurant has developed a group of regulars. Reid says she’s seen patron’s children growing up and lives changing. At one point, one of her regular customers moved away, and the family stopped by the restaurant to say goodbye before they left.
“That’s just a sweet little award for all the hard work—having that connection to people,” Reid says. “Food ties into our memories, and our holidays, and our traditions, and our families. It’s just really special for me to share that with our community.”
Jazzy Ladies Cafe and Coffeehouse | 45 E 8th Ave. | 458/201-7062