A Picnic for the ‘Hole’ Family
The warm, savory aroma of fresh bread, sweet pastries and homemade coffee fills the air as one walks into the café on a brisk morning. Ed Sheeran’s quiet singing fills the ambient space as friends and members of the community come together at Picnic Café.
Since Picnic’s grand opening two years ago, its popularity has spread just like a blanket for a picnic lunch outside with the family. Locals and tourists from all parts of the world visit Jackson, Wyoming, and Picnic Café is one of the newest places to explore.
“Picnic is the hub that all locals come to on the west side of Jackson,” Augusta said, a 10-year Jackson resident. She and her friend Kendra chat over some coffee before heading into work.
“Whenever I come to Picnic, I always run into someone I know,” Kendra said. “It has such a warm, inviting environment that draws people in and they keep coming back for the great food and coffee.”
Owners, Ali and Kevin Cohane, saw great success with French influenced Persephone Bakery, their first business on the east side of Jackson, and wanted to make a place especially for locals.
“Persephone was my initial baby and I did things exactly the way I wanted – whether or not it was popular,” Ali Cohane said. “Whereas Picnic, a place for everyone in Jackson, I listened to what people wanted and was able to give them that while not abandoning my basic principles of quality and service.”
The Jackson Hole Planet, a local newspaper, conducted a local’s choice survey of the best of Jackson in 2016. They focused on what people and businesses do to add to the community. Out of all the restaurants that opened, Picnic came out as Jackson’s best new restaurant.
“We were so happy,” Cohane said. “We worked really hard, and put a lot of care into developing this place so it was very gratifying.”
As head manager since Picnic’s opening, Connie Korhonen has seen Picnic develop and become part of Jackson’s thriving community.
“This last summer we had a significantly higher sales volume,” Korhonen said. “That tells us our marketing is doing well and we’re spreading by word of mouth as people come to town. Networks are recommending Picnic so we’re receiving a lot more of the tourist traffic even being off the town square. So that’s really exciting in even two years that we’re getting more business.”
The Picnic atmosphere is warm and welcoming. Cool blues and grays coat the walls with splashes of pink and orange in the décor. Windows let in the natural sunlight with small glowing lights that line the ceiling. There is a variety of seating for the whole family with tables, couches and bar stools. Eric and his 3-year-old son, Xavier, come in to enjoy breakfast together.
“We love walking from our house,” Eric said. “The service is great and Xavier can be his crazy self.” Little Xavier lifts his croissant into the air with a big smile at the mention of his name.
Customers gather together in the open spaces of the inviting sit down eating area. Frequent customers, Whitney and Amy, enjoy a pastry while discussing business plans.
“It’s so close to home,” Whitney said. “I always get the breakfast burrito to get me going in the mornings.”
Amy loves the variety of the menu. “The bread is delicious and they incorporate it into everything. I especially love the avocado toast.”
The food quality is very important to Picnic as it has a wide selection to choose from, as well as changing their menu up twice a year to bring something new to the table. They have hearty and sweet toasts, sandwiches, soups and desserts. The pastry window is filled with countless items – from cinnamon brioche to citrus cake.
Picnic has unique American recipes of their own that are created for a specific mood. Owners wanted it to feel more fun, casual and easy.
“We are going for fresh takes on classic café items, using high quality ingredients, and local items when possible,” Cohane said. “So, meals you can eat over and over again, but are different than what you get at any other café.”
As the only coffee shop on the west side of town, customers love the variety and custom organic blend Picnic has to offer as they work with locals at Snake River Roasting Company. The Snake River Roasting Company has been creating coffee for over a decade and won four bronze medals in the Golden Bean North American coffee tasting competition. Also, all of the syrup flavors are homemade which is unique to other coffee shops. They sell a variety of flavored drinks from vanilla bean to dark chocolate ganache.
As well as sweet drinks, Picnic also features Persephone Bakery’s favorite treats. Austin Weaver, a tourist from out of state, experienced the various Picnic desserts.
“I purchased banana bread with Nutella and a cookie for my wife and she liked them,” Weaver said. “I received kind, quick service. I had a few questions about the menu, and they were answered with a smile.”
Picnic and Persephone Bakery have also been featured in The Female Foodie, a popular online food blog written by female locals all around the world.
“True to its name, Picnic has a to-go case packed with awesome soups, salads and sandwiches to take out into the mountains for your very own picnic,” Annie Fenn said. “I can’t seem to leave Picnic without a big bag of treats to take home. Seeing that waxed paper bag labelled Picnic on the kitchen counter is a happy sight for my hungry kids when they come home from school.”
Jackson is home to many people all year around, but as the seasons change different groups come to experience all of the different activities available.
“Jackson being a tourist town by nature has ebbs and flows of the number of customers we have coming out of Picnic,” Korhonen said. “We get the influx of tourists during summer time and ski season. It’s kind of a funny little town like that.”
Greg Prugh, owner of Prugh real estate, developed the Seven Ten Split building where Picnic is located.
“It’s no secret we love to see modern design in this community,” Prugh said. “Picnic delivers on all fronts with bold, whimsical design by Nona Yehia of E/YE Design combined with outdoorsy elements such as a wall papered hand-drawn forest and an installation of Paul Villinski butterflies from Tayloe Piggott Gallery.”
Picnic’s location is in the middle of a large building complex and also conveniently across the street from the post office.
“There aren’t big signs for it, so you have to be exploring to find it,” Weaver said. “Being on the east side of town gives Picnic less visibility for people from out of town, but there are exciting postcards available which makes sense in a vacation spot.”
Jackson pulls crowds in for the winter outdoor activities. Ali Cohane, native to Chicago, was drawn to the area for the skiing and outdoors. She loved the open space Jackson offered.
With a college background in design she has a keen eye for putting things together. This talent and love for beautiful things has inspired the architecture and feel of Picnic as people come to escape the crowds of the town square.
“I envisioned it as a modern and fresh take on the mountain café,” Cohane said. “It is supposed to reflect textures and moods of the western landscape and our local environment in a progressive manner.”
The future of Picnic looks bright as more people come to experience Jackson. Cohane hinted that a new Persephone Bakery could be opening on the west side of Jackson sometime in the future.
Just as Picnic and Persephone Bakery have become family, the Cohane’s recently had an addition to their own family.
“I am still on a 3-month maternity leave, but I work from home every day,” Cohane said. “The balance is going to be very hard. I love my work, but my new baby is pretty amazing, and I want to be there and a part of her every day.”
Finding stability with family and the business life has been an adventure for the Cohane’s.
“We have learned how best to work with each other and keep it separate from our personal life,” Cohane said. “We have had really hard times. I don’t recommend opening a business with your partner unless you really know each other and have a very strong relationship, but we have built something wonderful together, and that is pretty special.”
Just as Cohane finds a balance in her busy schedule, so is the mission of Picnic to bring quality food and coffee to the busy lives of those who live in Jackson. The love that is put into the food and service is a reflection of Picnic and their desire to bring people together. It magnifies the spirit of the people that reside in this small town and all those who come to see a glimpse as they visit.
The design and décor provide an escape to the outside world. The food provides a vacation for each taste bud. Picnic offers an invitation to go out and explore or stay in and relax. Gather together to open and enjoy the picnic prepared just for you.