ST. PARIS – Brittney Fiedler and her 86-year-old grandmother Elsie Windle always dreamed of opening a bakery together.
Fiedler was “practically raised” by Windle and over the years garnered the nicknames “Nana Bird” and “Little Bird” — as she is described as “very little” in stature and Fiedler jokingly said she “ate like a bird.”
“She knew I was opening the cafe, but passed before it opened,” Fiedler said.
Little Birds Cafe opened for business this week and will hold a grand opening on Friday, March 24. It is located at 102 S. Springfield St. in St. Paris and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
According to Fiedler, Windle went in for a routine procedure and was hospitalized for 20 days before passing away on Sept. 26, 2022.
“I made a promise to her on her deathbed that I would get this place open. In 37 years I have never broken a promise to her. The least I could do is name the cafe after her.”
Windle retired at the age of 80 as a custodian at Graham Local Schools, but was known around the village of St. Paris for making whoopie pies, tack candy and cakes.
“It’s her name on the window, it’s her recipes; it’s her cafe, I’m just running it for her,” Fiedler said.
Of course, there is the coffee side of the business.
“I’ve been told our lattes are better than Starbucks,” said Fiedler. The cafe offers full coffee services such as hot lattes, espressos, iced coffee, iced lattes, smoothies and refreshers.
The cafe also offers soups and sandwiches and offers indoor and outdoor seating.
“We want to be known for good coffee, excellent customer service, and being family friendly,” said Fiedler as she cleaned up her 2-year-old daughter’s play area behind the counter.
Fiedler is a mother of three daughters, is a Graham alum and has been in the food industry for 20 years.
“I started at the age of 14 waiting tables at the old Top Hat,” Fiedler said of the popular restaurant spot on state Route 235. “At 16, I was offered a job at a local pizza shop and partnered with them as a restaurant manager for over 15 years.”
Fiedler plans to have plenty of her Nana’s cookies and pies ready for the cafe’s grand opening.
“Nana Bird was a community favorite. She was a very small but tough woman. Everyone knew and loved her,” Fiedler said.
Freelance contributor Andrew Grimm assisted with this story.