The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Community

September 3, 2009

Gaither Family Resources' Latte Cafe

Couple preach the gospel of gourmet

ALEXANDRIA — Bill and Gloria Gaither are known for crooning, not cooking.

As the first family of gospel music, the Gaithers have turned a cottage industry into an empire of praise music. They’ve scored eight Grammy awards, two dozen platinum albums and, this spring, were Pollstar’s 17th highest-grossing tour.

Meanwhile, their simmering coffee shop has boiled over to become a full-fledged restaurant. The Latte Cafe at Gaither Family Resources opened in April 1996 and, after 13 years of renovations and menu changes, has moved beyond muffins and mochas.

“It was coffee and muffins and scones at the time,” said general manager Eric Scott, a member of the Gaithers’ extended family for six years. He said the Latte Cafe now offers more than 100 menu choices, including pasta, hot sandwiches and Mexican dishes.

Nestled inside Gaither Family Resources — recently honored as Christian Retailing’s Independent Store of the Year — the Latte Cafe has a built-in customer base of gospel fans who flock to Alexandria for the Gaither experience.

“We have a lot of travelers because of Bill and Gloria,” Scott said. “We’ve had people come in from all 50 states and even from other countries.”

All of that would be meaningless, however, if the food fell short. Scott said the chicken salad sandwich, The Gaither Trio sandwich and deep dish macaroni and cheese are popular menu items. And the fandango salad from the 2007 overhaul of the menu has been a hit.

I put the Latte Cafe to the test by ordering the chicken fajitas. The sliced, and spicy seasoned chicken came in a cast-iron skillet with onion and green pepper. On the side was shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa (clearly from a jar).

I may have gotten the last of the tortillas, however, as two round ones had been cut in half to make four rounded triangles. The portion was plentiful and the taste satisfactory. To drink, I had the black tropical iced tea, which is popular but a little too subtle for my taste.

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