3 flavors

Nicholas Apreza and Eloisa Aeja are the couple, with their daughters, behind the popular food service of Three Flavors Kitchen. (Elisa Claassen/Lynden Tribune)

Menu and hard work of Nick Apreza, and family, are a winning combination 

WHATCOM — Nick’s Kitchen, formally known as Three Flavors Kitchen in Nooksack, will be opening a second location in the next few weeks in Sumas, according to chef and owner Nicolas Apreza.

“This is my dream,” he said.

While remodeling in the original space at 507 Nooksack Ave. is ongoing, the Three Flavors’ Facebook page announced the Sumas plan on Sept. 6 and asked for additional cooks and waiters to apply.

The popular eatery, with a broad menu of Italian, Mexican and American fare, opened in Nooksack in a small space formerly used by a series of bakeries. Apreza cooked and even occasionally served meals with the help of his family, before eventually extending in the past year into an unused neighboring building — and joining the two spaces with a larger kitchen centrally located near the new entrance. With the additional space came additional staff.

White boards announce the multiple specials of the day. Décor is simple: 1950s-style red upholstered metal chairs lined up with Formica tables.

Nick, who grew up in California, started in the food industry during his teen years, quickly moving from dishwasher to line cook within weeks, he said. While the Asian restaurant wait staff took orders in Japanese, he learned to read it enough to cook. “I don’t know how I did it, but I did.”

From California, he and his family relocated to the Seattle metro area working in Bellevue in the 1990s at The Butcher Restaurant and then for the former Spazzo Mediterrean Grill, both then owned by the Schwartz Brothers Restaurants. Before leaving, he was creating special menu items as a line cook for The Willows Lodge in Woodinville located near award-winning wineries. Most of the specials, often local fish dishes, were in the $50 price range.

An entirely different menu was devised for Nooksack.

Following the chance to have his own business, Apreza initially looked at a location in Federal Way before moving his family of eight children to Everson five years ago. A cousin, Ernesto Apreza, who owns La Gloria Market near the Everson Auction barn, was looking for locations for him and familiar with the space, having used it for a time for Mexican baked goods.

Apreza’s older daughters Cindy, now 21, and Lesley, 19, help their dad and mom Eloisa Aeja at Three Flavors. The first time he came to Nooksack, he saw a small business community and a quiet neighborhood, and the site had a very small kitchen, but he was willing to give it a try.

Now diners regularly come to his tables from Bellingham and Canada and throughout the county. From only family members working, now he has seven employees.

The new Sumas location is being renovated at the site of a former café on Cherry Street. It will have a similar menu to Nooksack’s. The plan is for Apreza and Cindy to open it in the morning and then return to Nooksack in the evening. As Sumas gets closer to a soft opening, an announcement will be made on Facebook.

“I work really hard,” he said. “The more business we have, the more we will hire.”

Three Flavors serves breakfast all day and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week. A full menu can be downloaded from threeflavorskitchen.com. Additional items include Swedish pancakes, Mongolian beef, chicken-fried steak, eggs benedict, and prime rib dinners on weekend evenings.