Medford resident plans downtown eatery as extension of catering business

After a layoff from a title company forced Medford resident Ed Chun to pursue his 20-year dream of opening a restaurant, Chun started small with Sunrise Catering & BBQ.

On Monday, his itinerant catering business, which he operated out of his home and at various commercial kitchens, will transform into the realization of his dream: the Sunrise Cafe.

Located at the former space of Sweetwater Cafe at 130 E. Main St. in Medford, Sunrise Cafe will continue catering Chun's speciality dishes created from his Korean and Hawaiian heritage, as well as offer a sit-down cafe and take-out service.

"I've spent 20-some years thinking about this," Chun said. "Now I'm actually going to have a place that's my place. I'm ready to jump in head first."

Sweetwater Cafe owner Anna Tollefson sold the cafe to Chun for an undisclosed amount after she became pregnant and wanted to lighten her workload, Chun said. Tollefson could not be reached for comment.

Everything about the cafe has been overhauled except for the furniture, Chun said.

Chun will serve up his speciality dishes such as pulled pork and Huli-Huli chicken and add more cafe-style items such as wraps, fruit salads and baked goods, some of which will be ready-made for quick take-out. Breakfast also will be available, including omelettes and island-theme French toast.

"Our mantra is fresh, healthy, green and using local products whenever possible," Chun said.

Good Bean Coffee, out of Jacksonville, will be brewed all day.

"One of my pet peeves is bad coffee, so I really looked for a good coffee," he said.

Within a week of the cafe's debut, Chun also expects to receive a liquor license and to begin offering wine, beer and speciality cocktails.

Entrees will be priced between $6 and $11.

Even the decor has been revamped.

The walls are glazed with "lemon drop" yellow paint, replacing the orange terra-cotta paint.

The decor will have a tropical theme but not "chintzy," Chun said.

Tollefson moved the Sweetwater Cafe to East Main from the Greyhound terminal on North Bartlett Street when city officials decided to build a replacement terminal at 220 N. Front St. The cafe operated at the East Main location for less than two years but became the site of regular meetings for the Medford Rotary Club of Rogue Valley After Five.

"She did a great job and definitely had loyal customers because a lot of people have been coming in and saying, 'What happened?' " Chun said.

Those Rotary meetings will continue at the Sunrise Cafe at 5:30 p.m. each Wednesday, Chun said.

Five months ago, Chun was working for First American Title, a job he landed when an associate heard he was selling his insurance business.

He launched his catering business part time, and his first customers were friends and other people he already knew.

The business began to grow through word of mouth and evolved as people began to ask for specific dishes or services, he said.

"The opportunity to buy Sweetwater just kind of presented itself," he said.

His sister, Carol Hendricks, will help in the business, managing the books and the dining room. Chun, she said, will be the creative side.

Hours will be 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and closed on Sunday.

Reach reporter Paris Achen at 541-776-4459 or e-mail pachen@mailtribune.com.