Little Red Caboose has new owners, southern flair

Published on Thu, Mar 26, 2009 by Tara Nelson

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Blaine’s historic Little Red Caboose has new owners and a new menu.
Indica Mitchell, her husband, Damien, and their sons Dedrick, 7, Damek, 10, and Dajayln, 12, have re-opened the Little Red Caboose on Peace Portal Drive, offering breakfast items, espresso, soups, salads and sandwiches.

Mitchell, a native of Albany, Georgia, said she has maintained much of previous owner Laura McAllister’s menu but with some revisions.

Most importantly, she has kept McAllister’s wafflini sandwich, a delightful concoction that sandwiches eggs, cheese and other ingredients such as ham or bacon between two delicious homemade waffles, but has also added hashbrowns, homemade poundcake and other baked goods to the breakfast menu.

“At first we weren’t going to offer hashbrowns but when the first and then second person came in and asked for hashbrowns, I said, ‘I’m going to the store,’” Mitchell said, laughing.

New lunch items include southern-style fish and chips such as catfish, tilapia and red snapper each breaded lightly in a fine cornmeal. By the chef’s suggestion, I tried the tilapia and was pleasantly surprised by the light, crunchy exterior that was free of even the slightest greasy aftertaste. Mitchell said she had to special order fine-grain cornmeal from restaurant suppliers in the south because it was not available locally. The tilapia had a nice, mild flavor but I was left hoping Mitchell might later amend the menu to include some local-caught salmon or halibut.

The caboose, a bright red fixture along Peace Portal Drive, is a relic of Blaine’s past as it served the Great Northern Railroad that merged into Burlington Railroad in the 1970s. The interior is cozy, even if a bit small, and can serve as the perfect spot to warm up with a hot espresso beverage on a cold day and meet new friends based on the common interest of escaping the freezing weather.

Mitchell, however, said she is looking forward to sunnier weather when her husband Damien can barbecue on the deck and is considering scheduling music performances and possible poetry readings and open mic nights.

“My husband loves to barbecue,” she said. “And when the weather warms up, we might start serving dinner.”

Dinners will likely include lasagna, barbecued ribs and Southern-style home cooking, she said. She will also be offering daily lunch specials including chicken, rice and gravy; French bread pizza; fried chicken; barbecue chicken and ribs; chili; and clam chowder.

Mitchell and her family moved to Bellingham from Macon, Georgia, three years ago. She said she was looking to open a business of her own to provide the flexibility needed to home school her children. After finding McAllister’s business for sale, she thought it would be the perfect fit.

She said she and her husband, Damien, fell in love with Blaine because of the friendliness of the people, the quality of life and the views of Drayton Harbor and the marina. Now the family is looking for a home here.

The two also work as missionaries for their church, The Living Water Fellowship, in Bellingham, and have plans to travel to the Ivory Coast in August to do mission work. Part of that goal will include working with other church members locally to raise money to purchase a bus for villagers there.

“Some people walk 10 to 15 miles just to go to church with their children,” she said. “Over there, the average annual income is $700. It makes you evaluate all the things we have here and don’t even need.

“I’m really excited because I’m looking forward to seeing the impact we will have there.”

Mitchell said she is still working to raise money to reimburse the church for the cost of their tickets and is accepting donations.

Little Red Caboose is located at 795 Peace Portal Drive and is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. They can be reached by calling 332-1900.