When Lori and Mike West, owners of Puyallup business British Bites, purchased a home in Centralia in 2021, they had no idea that the seller's agent, Levi Althauser, of Coldwell Banker Voetberg Real Estate and The Juice Box, would soon approach them with an opportunity to expand their business to a second location in Centralia.
“We decided we wanted to live a little further from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities,” Lori West said. “I knew Centralia would be a great place to live and raise our children.”
Althauser had the location on South Washington Avenue for a while, but wasn’t quite sure what to put there until he heard of British Bites and got excited.
“We need more diversity of businesses,” Althauser said. “I also really like British accents, so I was slowly working my way into the family.”
After a year of convincing by Althauser and plenty of careful planning and work, British Bites is set to open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at 108 S. Washington Ave. in Centralia.
Althauser has helped customize the building to suit British Bites, but also added a personal touch: His father built a custom sliding barn door in the shape of a British flag using upcycled historic flooring from Althauser’s Centralia home.
Mike West is a British citizen from Bath, England, having moved to Washington in 2016 to marry Lori after the couple met online. Lori West grew up in Raymond and visited Centralia often.
Since getting together, they’ve had four children at their Bonney Lake home before moving to Centralia. They’ve been back and forth across the pond at least once a year to see family, taste local fares and bring back new recipe ideas.
While Mike West trained in the culinary arts in the United Kingdom, it was Lori West who first went to work at British Bites in January 2018, initially as a side job on the weekends. After just a month of working for the business, the former owner suggested that the West family purchase the business, which has existed in various locations and forms since 2011 and at its current location since 2013. The former owner knew they would always have a family connection to the inspiration for the business.
“The former owner said to me that, ‘you still have that British connection. It’s not a novelty for you,’” Lori West said. “Everything happened at the right moment, even with moving here. I see it as fate.”
British Bites is providing a bakery and bistro in Centralia, though they hope to expand their offerings to include a small imported grocery store. The menu will be the same as the Puyallup location, with some seasonally rotating items. For anyone new to British cuisine, the Wests recommend trying their potato leek soup with a cheese scone or the sausage rolls.
“Every single one of our recipes has something in it that we’ve added that makes it ours,” Lori West said. “A lot of our stuff has come from going over there and bringing it back.”
The Wests will also offer a 10% discount for students of Centralia College, which is less than a block away, as well as for first responders.
British Bites will offer large event catering and can host events on site.
A tea service is available by reservation, true to a modern version that reflects what the average UK citizen would enjoy today rather than a Victorian style. They also offer several special event teas annually, all with a British theme, including a Mother’s Day Mad Hatter tea, Jane Austin, a Dr. Who Wibbly Wobbly tea, and, of course, a Harry Potter tea.
Lori West has long loved British culture, even before meeting her husband Mike online in 2015. One of her favorite memories she shared is hearing Mike, in his Bath accent, quote Mr. Darcy from famed Bath native Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, saying, “You have bewitched me, body and soul, and I love — I love — I love you. I never wish to be parted from you from this day on.”