Harlingen’s Café 406 strong as ever after burglary

dfwnewsa | March 1, 2024 | 0 | East Texas News , South Texas News

Harlingen’s Café 406 strong as ever after burglary
A view of a vanilla rose latte at Cafe 406 & Erika’s Gourmet Cookies in Harlingen on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)
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HARLINGEN — The bagel lies open and beckons the hunger, teasing the eye and the appetite with its egg and sausage and jalapeno and salsa and…

Welcome to Café 406, where Erika Shaw manifests her talent for combining flavors in unique medleys that excite the senses.

“It’s been my lifetime passion to cook,” said Shaw, 42, who opened Café 406 and Erika’s Gourmet Cookies in late November at 406 E. Harrison Ave.

Her passion for cooking is clearly evident in her menu with its novel inventions, a Petrie dish of experimentation. In the comfort of her café visitors can enjoy her Margherita flatbread pizza, chipotle chicken panini or a spinach, shroom and Swiss bagel.

They can order a honey vanilla nut parfait with Greek yogurt and granola, a lavender vanilla latte or a wildflower honey latte, and of course just a regular coffee Americano.

Erika’s Gourmet Cookies list entices the palette with such colorful names as the banana pudding, churro sugar, and fruity pebbles cookies. The peanut butter and jelly cookie is an especially flavorful delight and fresh and warm and good.

Such a fresh approach to cooking quickly caught the attention of the community and Shaw built a solid clientele, endearing herself even more to the community by holding fundraisers for various causes.

So when Shaw pulled up in front of her café one morning last week to find her front door shattered, the whole community came out to support her.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she said. “Two days in a row nonstop through the drive-thru.”

Baristas Maya Wilson, from left, and Valeria Trevino stand with owner Erika Shaw of Cafe 406 & Erika’s Gourmet Cookies along 406 E. Harrison Ave. in Harlingen on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

The moment she saw the door, she felt a “defeating” feeling. But not for long.

“I told myself, ‘I am not going to let it get me down,’” she recalled.

She was accustomed to unexpected challenges and facing the challenges with strength. The mother of four moved from Maryland after her husband died in 2016 and started a new life in the Valley. Plans for that new life didn’t work out, so she built another kind of new life here, raising her kids in local schools and opening a café.

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Letting anything get her down doesn’t seem to be in her vocabulary. Inside the café she found the mini-fridge gone, her register smashed, and she immediately posted the incident on Facebook. She further announced the drive-thru would remain open, and the result was two days of non-stop traffic, so much so that she quickly recovered her losses.

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“Lone Star Glass replaced the door the same day it happened and they didn’t even charge me,” she said. “We are deeply grateful for the unwavering support and kindness shown by our community during these challenging times.”

In her professional life before Café 406 she worked in a clerical capacity in medical offices, but throughout her life the exploration of flavors and the innovations with those flavors have served her well in her private time.

Her Bourbon ham and cheese panini, churro cheesecake, meat tri’s flatbread pizza and cookies and cream cookies reveal further her culinary talent and reflect extensive training.

But she has never attended a culinary school. She acquired her skill through long hours watching the Food Network over the course of many years and the purchase of cookbooks. It could be said that such self-taught expertise is the key to her success. A Purdue University theater professor once said, “Sometimes I think we train the creativity right out of them.”

There is certainly some truth to this, at least in Shaw’s case. The food and the friendly atmosphere have quickly built a loyal clientele which threw in its support in a time of challenge.

“We are deeply grateful for the unwavering support and kindness shown by our community during these challenging times,” she said.

Owner of Cafe 406 & Erika’s Gourmet Cookies Erika Shaw prepares to hang photographs at Shaw’s Cafe 406 in Harlingen on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024. (Miguel Roberts | The Brownsville Herald)

She’s looking forward to her next fundraiser March 2 for the National Marrow Donor Program. Between 9 and 11:30 a.m., for every cookie purchased at that time, $1 will be donated to the program.

They get their cheek swabbed and that’s what gets them into the registry. The swab gets mailed away and put into the system and then if there’s a potential match in the future, they will be contacted and they can decide at that point if they wanted to donate still or not.

Café 406 and Erika’s Gourmet Cookies is located at 406 E. Harrison Ave and is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday. On Saturday, it’s open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

The post Harlingen’s Café 406 strong as ever after burglary appeared first on MyRGV.com.

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