Good Eggs: Breakfast on a surfboard
EPHRAIM – Joel Bremer describes his thriving Door County business as "half the day, half the year." That fits with his Good Eggs breakfast restaurant being, in his opinion, more of a lifestyle achievement than a corporate triumph.
"Keep it real, keep it simple," has been the motto since Good Eggs opened 11 years ago. That means omelet-filled burritos, ordered and delivered at a counter and served in a plastic basket daily from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., May through October.
Surfboards and stools are the tables and chairs, with most of the seating outside. Located across Highway 42 from Ephraim's Eagle Harbor, the cafe has a large front yard.
On its best days, Good Eggs sells 250 burritos, along with coffee, juice, tea, water, soda and smoothies. Although there are plenty of bakeries in Door County, Bremer bakes his own scones, muffins and peanut butter-oatmeal bars every morning.
Customers line up to order from a menu that offers three levels of burritos. The Basic costs $5.25 and consists of a cheese and potato omelet wrapped in a giant tortilla. The Standard adds veggies and is $2 more.
Priced at $9.25, the Deluxe burrito contains an omelet with spuds, cheese, veggies and meat. The many fillings options include several kinds of cheese, spinach, asparagus, green onions, red peppers, crimini mushrooms, bacon, sausage, chicken and home-made black bean salsa. Customers are invited to squirt hot sauce onto the cooked mixture before it is wrapped in their choice of several different tortillas.
The owner gives credit to his staff for his business' success. "They are the face of Good Eggs, and they are so important to the restaurant," he tells people.
Good Eggs reflects the thoughtful Bremer's values and preferred way to live. "I get to be my own boss, and for half the year I am a stay at home dad, spending time with my kids," he said one afternoon last week.
Bremer and his wife Lauren, a Door County high school teacher, have two pre-schoolers.
"I love the simplicity of this place," he continued. "We have an open kitchen. I like that nothing is hidden. We are very transparent."
Bremer also loves that dish washing is a nonexistent task in his restaurant. "I was attracted to basket service after having worked in fine dining," he explained.
The Good Eggs story begins back in Bremer's college days, when the Minnesota native began working in Door County during the summer. The first year he taught sailing at Peninsula State Park, repaired bicycles and bussed tables at the English Inn. The distaste for dirty dishes started there.
Subsequent summers were spent as a server at some of the county's top restaurants – Trio, Alexander's and the Mission Grille. Along the way, Bremer received a degree in history from UW-Madison, spent time in Guatemala and taught English in Japan.
"I learned some things," he said. "I saw poor people who were happy and rich people who were unhappy." In other words, life success is not measured in money.
Bremer bought a bus, converted it into a camper for 12, and hauled college kids looking for skiing and mountain biking adventures around the country. Bad brakes ended that.
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