Harris, who goes by Rose, doesn’t mind, though. She said she thrives on the one-on-one rapport she develops with her customers, as well as from knowing she’s offering healthy, quality food.
That rapport has resulted in several marriage proposals and many new friends, she said.
“It’s not just to make money. We’re not going to get rich. It’s more about the future, about doing what you love,” Harris said.
The fresh paint job, in warm colors, and fun atmosphere add to the ambiance.
Harris, 29, co-owns Desert Rose Café with her mother, Beverly Kipe. Kipe is a full-time federal employee and helps in the café some evenings and weekends.
Harris’ introduction to the restaurant business started at Boston Market while she was a student at Smithsburg High School. She was promoted to supervisor when she turned 18 and worked there until her son was born two years later.
After maternity leave, she took a job as assistant manager of Harry and David, a national gourmet food store at Prime Outlets in Hagerstown. She worked there for six years, then was promoted to store sales manager of the Gettysburg, Pa., store, where she worked for three years until she opened the café.
Organic lettuce and tomatoes, fresh vegetables and the best ingredients Harris can afford are showcased on the menu. Gourmet sloppy joes are made with Harry & David’s Pepper and Onion Relish, and soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches, with vegetarian and vegan options, are available.
An array of baked goods, coffee and tea, and smoothies round out the menu. Red beans and rice, a staple from New Orleans, where Kipe once lived, is also on the menu.
“I pretty much make people food, then hang out with them,” Harris said.
Harris said the focus on health and quality has been popular with hikers and cyclists who frequent the North Conococheague Street café.
When hikers and cyclists from the Washington, D.C., area come off the C&O Canal and seek out the café based on word-of-mouth recommendation, it’s music to the ears of Harris and Kipe.
They also have a following among locals in Williamsport, including a younger after-school crowd.
“The community has welcomed us with open arms,” Harris said.
“We have just fallen in love with Williamsport,” Kipe said.
Desert Rose Café is open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For more information, call 301-223-6400 or go online to www.desertrosecafeandcatering.com.