A series of new developments is casting a spotlight on St. Francis. Last year, the area welcomed Carleton Grange, the English-style pub and restaurant at 3807 S. Packard Ave., and just last month OnMilwaukee.com's Andy Tarnoff chatted with Deano about his new salon, Mirror Mirror, at 3554 E. Sivyer Ave.
With all the condos going up along the lake, St. Francis resident Shari Franz saw a neighborhood on the rise as the perfect spot for her new coffee shop, Fixx Coffee House.
The spacious, new 1,800 square-foot building at 3558 E. Sivyer Ave. faces Packard Avenue, and the sun rising off the lake casts a brilliant yellow glow throughout the café in the mornings.
Even without the help of the morning sun, Fixx emits a natural, welcoming coziness, so much so that Franz says it's earned the nickname, "St. Francis's living room." Four large black couches form a square in the center of the café, with a coffee table covered in reading material in the middle. This is what Franz calls "the couch pod."
"There are just so few coffee shops with seating for large groups," she says. "I'd see five people trying to fit around a bistro table and I thought, we need to solve this."
Franz has fashioned her cafe as the ultimate group meeting place and manages to pull it off without compromising personal space for her customers. In addition to the couch pod, there's a table for eight in the back for groups, scores of four-tops across from the coffee counter and a section of tall bistro tables near the front, which work well for studying or reading.
Franz chose to serve coffee from Door County Coffee & Tea Co. at Fixx, making it the only cafe south of Green Bay to offer it by the cup and in bulk.
But when it comes to bakery, Franz looks no further than her own kitchen. The smell of homemade cinnamon rolls -- which are huge, delicious and cost only $1 -- muffins and bagels tempt the taste buds daily and the modest prices allow for plenty of indulgence.
Fixx also offers lunch in the form of panini sandwiches, wraps, salads and fresh fruit.
Although Fixx has only been in business for ten weeks, it's already becoming a neighborhood hot spot, with regulars coming in daily to work on projects and families enjoying open mic night on the weekends
"I really saw a need in the neighborhood for something like this," she says. "There are so many people that are transplants from other areas living in the condos and they're interested in meeting their neighbors and are looking for a place to do that."
Bringing people together is another large part of why she opened the cafe. After extensive research on the area's demographics, Franz found that half of St. Francis is single.
"Statistics show that 60 percent of first dates happen in coffee shops," she says.
On the building's south wall Franz has organized her own system of personal ads to "fixx" people up. Rather than search online on sites like Match.com or eHarmony, guests are invited to fill out questionnaire profiles and post them on the personals wall for others to browse. So far, Franz says she's witnessed one match-up.
"Coffee shops like this are safe places to meet other people and you don't have to commit to a whole night out."
Coffee shop cooking classes are her latest project and the next one is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 3. Chef Sandi Hillmer hosts "Passion for Chocolate," a menu that incorporates chocolate into every course and for $45 guests can prepare, indulge and socialize over a shared feast.
"I have no intention of expanding past St. Francis," says Franz. "I just wanted to help create something nice for the area and I think people are really enjoying it."
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”