Déjà Brew: Red House Kitchen

For 13 years I lived in the small town of Imperial Beach on the southern border of San Diego, California. This summer I had the privilege to revisit my hometown and continue my coffee review column with a small cafe called the Red House Kitchen (RHK). 


About the Cafe 

Founded in 2017, RHK strives to serve healthy and trendy food to the community of Imperial Beach. The cafe serves all-American cuisine with some Hispanic twists and caters to all vegan or vegetarian needs. 

RHK was originally a house that has been converted into a restaurant within the last decade, creating an intimate and cozy setting. The small cafe attracts swarms of locals and tourists alike who are intrigued by RHK’s interesting menu. 

“Our current situation is that our place is small and busy,” Bethany Case, owner of RHK said. “We want to find a place to sit everybody. We have been given offers on franchising, but while I am interested, I am not particularly sure I am quite ready to do it yet.”

Most of their produce comes fresh from Wild Willow Farm, a non-profit local farm and education center in San Diego. 

“I think it is important for people to shop locally,” Case said.” It helps the local economy and the local restaurants.” 


A Glimpse at the Menu

The menu is comprised of up-and-coming food trends along the Southwestern coast. Case’s husband is vegan, so the idea of a healthy lifestyle was nothing new. She said that the creation of her restaurant was really for her own selfish reasons; wanting a place in her community that fulfilled her own needs. 

  • Avocado Smash mashed avocado, feta cheese, green sprouts, curry oil, & cherry tomatoes (served on toast)
  • Whipped Lime Yogurt Bowl homemade whipped lime yogurt, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds, blackberries & granola 
  • Kale & Sweet Potato Hashkale, sweet potatoes, scrambled egg, carrots, grilled onions, grilled zucchini, grilled jalapenos, & chicken sausage (served in a spinach wrap with homemade salsa)
  • Dirty Chai Muffina gluten-free and vegan muffin baked with chia seeds & espresso 

Most baked goods, baked fresh on-site, are gluten-free with vegan options as well. RHK offers weekly specials for breakfast and lunch, including breakfast bowls with a variety of protein-filled ingredients. All breakfast bowls can be served as a sandwich instead upon request. 


The Coffee

Though the coffee isn’t the focus of their business structure, it certainly is one of the many highlights at RHK. Their coffee is supplied by Ryan Bros Coffee, a local coffee roasting and cafe company in San Diego, CA. Their coffee was amazing. 

I tried two different beverages offered at the cafe: the RHK Mocha and the Mayan Mocha. 

The first was a delicious traditional mocha by the name of the restaurant.

The second, and by far my favorite, was a mocha made with cinnamon-Mexican-chocolate and topped with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Though the concept of mixing sweet with spicy might turn most away, the Mayan mocha proves to be one of the most popular coffee beverages at RHK. 


Community Outreach 

RHK’s offerings to the community reach far beyond their unique menu and on-site activities. They are a part of a program called the SurfRider Foundation: a non-profit organization that seeks to promote a healthier environment and protect beaches and waterways. SurfRider’s motto is ‘Rise Above Plastics’, as they promote restaurants and other businesses to use as little non-biodegradable products as possible. 

To qualify for the Ocean Friendly Restaurant program, a restaurant must complete seven out of ten requirements. RHK fulfills all and was recently named a Platinum-ranking member of SurfRider’s program.

Once a month, the cafe hosts a small produce market and is considering making it a more permanent feature. In addition, RHK holds weekly yoga sessions on their back patio and hopes to incorporate more activities and community groups into their business. 

Case feels very passionately about promoting a healthy lifestyle and a healthy environment and has become a shining role model for other businesses in the area. She emphasizes hiring locals and understands the importance of providing jobs within the community. 

“I’ll hire someone if they’re qualified, said Case. “However, it is nice to have employees close by in town if there’s a fast adjustment in shifts or scheduling.” 


A Personal Connection: 

My cousin, Noah Wahamaki, works at RHK. In addition to reviewing the cafe this summer, I was also able to visit him at his place of work and get the friends-and-family discount. 

“Red House Kitchen is a very fun and energetic place to work,” Wahamaki said. “Everyone that works there is like family. I love working in a place that is very environmentally friendly. We get a wide variety of customers and everybody that comes in walks out with a smile on their face.”

RHK was created after I moved to St. Louis, Missouri and it was a joy to see it up and running this summer. I was in awe after learning about the cafe and being able to witness its charm in person. In my conversation with Case, I expressed how I’d give anything to have a place like RHK in the West County community. 

Though it may still be new, RHK has had an enormous impact on its community. From its ambiance, to its food and coffee, the Red House Kitchen will not fail to amaze anyone who walks through its door.