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Valerie Phillips
Ray and Londa Davis are the owners of Bite Size Cafe Catering featuring smaller portions. Ray and Londa Davis are the owners of Bite Size Cafe Catering featuring smaller portions.

It's one of those against-all-odds dreams — opening a café and catering business in a tough economy. But just a few weeks after opening, Bite Size Cafe Catering is gaining a following in the Farmington/Kaysville area.

When Ray and Londa Davis of Kaysville came up with the name for their new business, they didn't realize how well the term "Bite Size" dovetailed with the times. One of the big trends in party food these days is mini portions that are big on flavor — think "small plates," "cake bites" and "shooters," where the appetizer or dessert is served in shot-glass size cups.

"It may have something to do with the economy and what people can spend," said Ray Davis. "Doing bite-size is good for your budget and more bang for your buck."

Londa pointed out that it may also be a backlash from the "super-size" era. "It's nice to have just a small bite of several different things so you can really enjoy them and not feel too full."

While the catering side of the business excels in "bite-size" party food, the cafe's thoughtfully prepared soups, sandwiches and salads are generously portioned and served on real plates. Perhaps that's why on a recent weekday visit, the lunch crowd extended well into the afternoon at the café, at 1050 Shepard Lane.

The $5.75 lunch special included a half sandwich, a half salad, a fountain drink and a "bite" of one of the luscious bakery treats as a sweet finale. Among the choices were a cilantro mango chicken salad sandwich, and a thick-sliced turkey, ham and Swiss with a creamy basil spread. Any of the sandwiches can be "bricked" — turned into a hot panini by being cooked under a hot, foil-wrapped brick. Two salad choices are the blueberry pecan salad with creamy Caribbean dressing; or spinach, bacon and mushroom salad with balsamic honey dressing.

The café is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, offering both dine-in or takeout. They will also offer free delivery of boxed lunches within south Davis County.

Although the big new Station Park development is a few miles down the road, the Davises opened their shop in a strip mall where the major tenant, Kmart, moved out years ago. But Burt Brothers Tires recently expanded its business, and Javier's Mexican Food opened last summer, so things are looking up.

"There's been some recent activity there," said Cory Ritz, a Farmington City Council member when interviewed about Farmington's new businesses. "The trick is, it takes the right business to be a fit for that location. The state didn't do us any favors the way they constructed that overpass, and accessibility has been a challenge."

The Davises bring lots of experience to the table. Over the years, they have owned Papa Murphy's and Pretzel Maker franchises. Londa worked in the Delta Center's suites catering services for the past six years, and catered local Rotary Club breakfasts for five years.

"We've always loved food," said Ray. "Food is an excellent way to connect with people. For years, we've dreamed up so many restaurant ideas."

As most of their children reached their teen years, "It finally came the time to do it," said Londa. "The kids are old enough now to work with us and it will give them jobs. It can be stressful beforehand, but the interaction with people and knowing they're happy with what you have done is a wonderful reward."

If you're doing your own party, you can take some ideas from the Bite Size playbook.

Tortellini Brochettes are an easy, but impressive appetizer. Buy refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini, and boil them to just before the "al dente" stage so that they are still a little chewy and easy to work with. Assemble, fold up a lunch-meat size slice of Capicola ham or prosciutto to a ¾-inch square. Take a toothpick and skewer the meat between two of the tortellini. Drizzle the brochettes with pesto that's been thinned with water or oil, and chill until time to serve.

The caterers recently served miniature Cobb salad canapés on crisp flatbread that was the hit of the party. Each canapé offered one bite that included tiny pieces of egg, chicken, blue cheese and tomato, with dressing.

At another event, they served artichoke puffed pastry and margherita puffed pastry appetizers. Ray pointed out that you can do other puff pastry combinations such as apple and brie, or caramelized onion and pear.

Savory hors d'oeurves are Ray's specialty, while Londa enjoys doing sweet dishes such as triple-chocolate cake bites and raspberry panna cotta "shooters" served in tiny, clear cups.

"'Shooters' are a great way to present appetizers that look fantastic," said Londa. "They can contain anything from shrimp cocktail type appetizers to verrines." Because they are served in clear glasses, the sweet or savory ingredients can be layered to give visual appeal.

Their website is at bitesize-cafe.com.

Valerie Phillips is the former Deseret News food editor. She blogs at www.chewandchat.blogspot.com. Email: vphillips@desnews.com