While the City of Lincoln City, often referred to as the “Ministry of Magic” by the owners of The Cheeky Cauldron, the had not yet approved the final work done in order for them to open the restaurant side of the business, their grand opening and celebration of Harry Potter’s birthday on July 31 was a magical moment.
Three women, Crystal Areal (Willow Moon), Christina Kell (Raven Moon) and Terri Gilbert (Terillia Moon), are pursuing their long-time dream of owning a Harry Potter themed restaurant. The experience they’ve had in an effort to get the doors open has been challenging and sometimes emotional, but they have persisted.
“Everything has been happening exactly when and where and how it needs to happen,” said Areal. “Even though it can be frustrating, we know something amazing is going to happen.”
Areal and Kell met about a year and a half ago and became best friends with a shared bond over a love for all things Harry Potter. In preparation for the opening, Areal has been the drink and potions maker and Kell has been the artist.
“We figured out super quickly that we were basically twins that don’t look like each other. We kind of share a brain.” Areal said. “We also really complement each other, a weakness one of us has is a strength of the other.”
Below the floating candles and flying keys above, they will offer a menu with coffees and teas and British food.
Gilbert, who is Areal’s mother, has taken the lead in the kitchen. Once having a collection of 175 teacups and saucers and about 70 tea pots. She said she loves teas and she loves to bake.
“I’ve been to England many times and have dear friends over there,” Gilbert said. “And there are some things that I want to be very authentic, like their desserts and custards.”
Her pastry is made from scratch, but all recipes will be kept in the “Restricted Section.” The trio fine-tuned the menu with several taste-testings.
“I’m not a mushy pea fan, but we’ve had so many requests for them, so we’re going to make mushy peas,” Gilbert said.
They plan to do Harry Potter trivia nights, they have a mobile app and a website where people can make reservations, with many other plans in the works.
They boast a genuine love for and knowledge of the wizarding world, and they said they understand why so many people seem to relate to the stories on an emotional level.
“It’s about people finding their place and fitting in. It allows people who feel like they’re the outcasts to know that they can be the heroes of their own stories,” Areal said. “I’m 45 and I know five-year-olds that are obsessed with Harry Potter. It’s like an obsession that never dies, and every generation is being brought into the Harry Potter universe. It hasn’t died down and the excitement’s only gotten more and more and more, especially with all of the new things in the wizarding world coming out.”
They expect they will need to hire employees at some point, but everyone who works there needs to be well-versed in, possibly obsessed with, Harry Potter.
The trio looked at a few different locations and while they looked at their current location at 1640 NE Hwy 101, Lincoln City, first, they didn’t immediately lease it.
They later decided upon this location and are also leasing the lot next to the building in order to offer an outdoor seating experience as well as outdoor events.
Because the location was previously a tattoo studio, the change of use for the building prompted many changes needed to comply with codes. They said that some people in the city have been very supportive and helpful, others not so much.
The changes they had planned to make were primarily cosmetic. They said that originally, the planning department told them they didn’t need to make changes to the bathroom because they were grandfathered in.
They said they were also told they didn’t need to change the hood in the kitchen because they only had a bakery oven, and that they didn’t need a new grease trap because they don’t have fried or greasy foods on their menu, but they were later required to make those changes. They were also told after the fact that they had to replace the wall covering because the walls were wood, which they were told is not allowed in a restaurant.
With the changes they were required to make to the architectural drawings and subsequent work, and the huge expense to upgrade the bathroom, they had concerns about their ability to open at all. They had issues with their general contractor and misinformation from the city, they said they felt like they were going to need a miracle.
They got a new contractor, but they were certain there was no way to open on July 31. They contacted people who had reservations to reschedule.
They said they have basically depleted their life savings, but are still moving full steam ahead, even if that means not opening the kitchen yet.
“How is it fair that we have to pay an exorbitant amount for upgrades just because our business is a ‘change of use,’ but every other restaurant in town can just go about their lives with wood walls or no bathrooms?” Areal said. “Gotta love bureaucracy.”
Barring no other complications, they expect to have all the requirements met in the first week of August and will be fully open and accepting reservations.
And they do have exciting plans for October and Halloween, and then Christmas.
“Basically, the day after Halloween, Christmas decorations go up, and it’s Christmas the rest of the year,” Areal said. “It’s only two months and there are so many people who are going to want to experience it.”
Note: For clarification on the requirements and necessary procedures and potential miscommunications, The News Guard reached out to both the planning director and city manager, and neither had responded by press time.