VIROQUA — Twelve years after it roasted its first coffee beans, Kickapoo Coffee Roasters in Viroqua and a local baker have opened the Kickapoo Coffee Cafe in a renovated former gas station at 302 S. Main St. in downtown Viroqua.
The cafe opened April 13 and will have its grand opening Saturday, said Allison Sandbeck, who for the past two years has worked at Kickapoo Coffee Roasters while also operating her Crumb baking business in Viroqua.
The new cafe is owned by Sandback and Kickapoo Coffee Roasters owners Caleb Nicholes and T.J. Semanchin. It’s the second Kickapoo Coffee Cafe — the first one opened in December 2015 in Milwaukee.
Sandbeck developed the baked goods sold at both cafes. The Viroqua cafe features bagels, brioche, muffins, cookies, cake and soon will have pie.
She said the cafe will use local and organic ingredients for as many of its food items as possible, and she expects to use only organic ingredients for the baked goods she makes.
The cafe will begin offering breakfast and lunch menus on Saturday. The initial breakfast menu includes buttered grilled bagel; fried egg, cheese and greens sandwich; grilled bagel with lox, baked oatmeal pudding and The Beast – slow-cooked meat served with spinach greens and two fried eggs with brioche toast or gluten-free cornbread.
The initial lunch menu includes brioche melt; Hearty Market Salad, a smaller version of that salad; local charcuterie, cheese and antipasti plate with brioche; and homemade soup.
Beverages include an array of coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate, fresh-squeezed juice and soda pop, including Wisco Pop made at the Food Enterprise Center — the same building where Kickapoo Coffee Roasters roasts its coffee.
Caleb Nicholes started the coffee roasting business, which roasted its first beans in 2005. T.J. and Denise Semanchin joined him in the business in early 2006.
Sandbeck has been a professional baker for the past 20 years. She has lived in Viroqua for 13 years, and worked at the Viroqua Food Co-op and at the Driftless Cafe before going to work at Kickapoo Coffee Roasters two years ago. She also started her Crumb baking business two years ago.
“I was mainly doing catering and events like weddings,” she said of Crumb, which offered such things as cakes, pies and cheesecakes. People can order those things from the new Kickapoo Coffee Cafe, she said.
“We realized it was a good fit to be doing both food and coffee,” the Long Island, N.Y., native said of the two cafes that have opened in Milwaukee and Viroqua.
“Viroqua was ready for something else,” Sandbeck said. “And Kickapoo Coffee’s excited to finally have a coffee shop in their hometown. I was super excited to have the opportunity to do this.”
The Viroqua cafe has both inside and outside seating. The former Mobil gas station’s garage door was replaced with a new garage door, which will be open in the warmer months.
The cafe has about a dozen employees, Sandbeck said.