Birch & Banyan is the name of a new coffee shop moving into Hartland at 150 E. Capitol Dr. The shop, which is slated to open by mid-March is located in a 125-year-old building that once held a coffin manufacturing company.
Proprietor Jessie Senglaub grew up in Lake Country, where she was one of the original employees for Milwaukee Street Traders, a relaxed coffee house in downtown Delafield. The experience, which included work as a barista and manager, left an indelible mark that planted the seed for a dream of one day owning her own cafe.
"To this day, it’s still one of my favorite jobs," she says. "It was very much a place for the community, and that’s always been an important thing for me."
Senglaub, who left her full time position in digital marketing last fall to launch Birch & Banyan, earned her bachelor’s in marketing and entrepreneurial management from the University of Minnesota, as well as a graduate degree from Marquette University. She says that her decision to leave behind the career for which she spent years training was born of a desire to create a workplace culture that she just wasn’t finding in her own life.
"I’m a people person and I really thrive in places where the culture is really positive," she says. "It’s been a life dream since I was 15 to open my own coffee shop, and it seemed like a good time to take the leap."
While she scouted locations for her new endeavor, she took a job at Kickapoo Cafe in the Third Ward, where she refreshed her skills as a cafe manager and barista. With the help of a friend in real estate, she eventually landed a deal on the Hartland venue, which she purchased in September.
"I absolutely love Milwaukee and the Third Ward, but the market is a lot more saturated here," she says of the decision to put her cafe in Lake Country. "So, I made a list of places that I might want to consider. Essentially, I really love small towns, and I really wanted to build my business in a place where I could really get to know all of my customers."
Birch & Banyan drew its name from both the street on which Senglaub grew up (Birch Road in Delafield) and the state tree of Hawaii, a vacation destination where Senglaub settled on the name for her business, which she hopes will be a "happy place" for her customers.
"Hawaii is my happy place," she says. "I love the ocean, and it’s just something that makes me really happy. I was kayaking in Hawaii last February and we passed an island just covered with banyan trees. And that’s when the name clicked. It helps that the two words together have this really nice alliteration."
According to Senglaub, the 1,750-square foot cafe will serve coffee and espresso drinks, along with grab-and-go items sourced from Lake Country area businesses. The environment will be comfortable and cozy with hardwood floors, comfortable couches, a fireplace and warm brick walls that complement an interior palette of neutral tans and browns with dark blue accents. Meanwhile, a small soundproof conference room in the cafe will allow customers to take private meetings.
Tentative hours for the cafe will be 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.