Flagstaff Station Market Café pays homage to history with convenient and tasty food

Northern Arizona’s Mountain Living Magazine, December 2020

Written by Gail G. Collins

Repurposing is the process by which something of value is transformed. That definition describes the quick and clever conversion of an historic 1962 gas station to a retail coffee pit stop to its current collaboration of local goods at Flagstaff Station Market Café—a place where people can gather and linger.

After Late for the Train relocated, the coffee spot was honed and expanded to serve tourists on their way to the Grand Canyon, skiers looking for a bite and a beer, or neighbors, who can swing in to collect eggs, milk and bread.

“On the road to Snowbowl, everyone going to ski goes past us,” co-owner Frank Garrison said. “We can fuel your day or power your hike.”

The Station opened on Sept. 11 after a lightning speed gut and earnest DIY upgrade.

“It took four weeks to transform the space with dawn to dusk effort,” partner Jenn Cohen said. “Neighbors watched, cheered and checked on the progress—a welcome addition to a longtime neighborhood.”

Previously, the couple owned the Butterfly Garden Inn along State Route 89A. With affection for Flagstaff’s favorable climate, they moved with a comparable business idea in mind.

A large parking lot with a sprawling patio and deck invite customers to dash in for coffee and a pastry or lounge through lunch with a panini. The Station is dog-friendly and resides within walking or biking distance of thousands of homes.

The Station has not forgotten its roots. Metal art and menu choices are a nod to its original purpose as a filling station. Now, it fills guests with food and drink.

“Old timers remember when it was a gas station, and it has long been referred to as Flag Station,” Cohen said. “It was the most natural thing in the world to come full circle.”

Breakfast paninis are named for landmarks, like the Humphreys—scrambled farm fresh eggs with smoked Gouda cheese and applewood smoked bacon—or the San Francisco—truffle goat cheese, scrambled eggs, roasted red bell peppers and arugula. Hot lunch sandwiches reference area roads, like Route 66—Black Forest ham, caramelized onion jam, Gruyère cheese and baby arugula.

Rough-hewn wood booths, tables, painted concrete flooring, retro lighting with steel and wire accents feel comfortable while pops of deep red in the ceiling and trim enliven the space. Many local products are for sale, bridging the gap between souvenirs and staples: artisan postcards, books, honey, goat milk beauty notions, beer, wine and more. Most are created within a mile of The Station.

Half of the beers for sale are from Flagstaff with must-haves from other small breweries filling the gaps, such as Walter Station, a Phoenix brewing company located in a former firehouse.

The bakers begin at 3 a.m. to supply a dozen different morning sweets by 6 a.m., always with a gluten-free option among them. The Danishes are a consistent hit as are the croissants—enormous, yet light. The cheddar and onion biscuits hide savory pockets in every bite. Nearby residents of The Peaks, A Senior Living Community  often come by for their favorites.

As the previous shop focused on coffee for more than three decades, expectations are high for The Station. Garrison has been involved with coffee since he was 15 years old and a partnership with Matador Coffee Roasting has produced a special blend, labeled and bagged for The Station. The Brazilian Sul de Minos and Tanzanian Peaberry combo crafts a full-bodied cup of joe. Whole leaf blended teas from Matador also fulfill caffeine cravings.

“The quality and consistency is spot on. Once people try us, they’re happy,” Cohen said. “Customers move us to tears with their compliments.”

As far as food, Cohen conjures ingredients, while Garrison tailors recipes. The couples’ 14-year-old daughters drove the need to fashion the perfect chai, mixing spices, concentrating the liquid and adding a splash of agave syrup. Served hot or cold, add a shot to make it dirty.

Last highpoints include the waffle, which is gluten-, dairy- and sugar-free, yet rests on its Belgian bonafides. Made with almond flour and coconut sugar, it is topped with maple syrup or handmade whipped cream with organic vanilla syrup. The 180 panini with pesto Genovese, fresh tomatoes, turkey and provolone is melty marvelous.

At The Station Market Café, everything comes together in a sweet locale that encourages pop-in traffic, a family stop with the dog in tow or that per-chance date night. Just say, “Meet me at The Station.” NMLM

If you go:

Flagstaff Station Market Café is located at 1800 N. Fort Valley Rd. Stop by any day of the week between 6 a.m. and 5 p.m. Visit www.flagstaffstation.com for more information.