By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published May 25, 2018 at 9:01 AM

Last May, Stone Creek announced plans to convert the former bank at 2650 N. Downer Ave. into a brand new cafe. Nearly one year to the day, the cafe has officially opened to the public.

In an early release on the project, Stone Creek founder and co-owner Eric Resch noted, "I celebrated a lot of great milestones [in this neighborhood] ... my first house, getting married and our first son. For years, we watched as the street changed. The old bank site is an important anchor of this street, and it has been empty for a long time. We are excited to rehab this corner and make it awesome."

And a first look at the space confirms that this cafe is, indeed, pretty awesome.

The look & feel

In many ways, the design of the cafe mimics the industrial chic feel of Stone Creek’s other locations. But it’s uniquely cozy and warm, with a touch of whimsy that offers customers an unexpected smile at any turn.

It all starts on the exterior, where there's an oh-so-convenient pick-up window where folks can grab coffee or snacks on the go.

Once inside, guests will find bright corners in which to lounge.

There are tables perfect for meeting (or eating with a group).

If you're flying solo, there are unique, well-appointed places to work.

While the decor is mostly comprised of wood and cement, living plants and pops of color contribute to a warm, friendly vibe.

There's also an awesome patio, which seats about 50.

For those who prefer it, garage doors on the north side of the building provide an open-air experience with the benefit of shade.

And just in case you've lost your way, there are even some smile-inducing signs to direct you.

Project EAT

In addition to the full coffee service guests would expect, the cafe is also serving as the pilot for Project EAT, a menu of comfort food items that are elegant, accessible and transparent (EAT) and which also complement Stone Creek's established and ever-growing farm-to-cup coffee program. Those items are prepared onsite thanks to the addition of an efficiently sized semi-open kitchen.

Egg sandwiches

Options include egg sandwiches, served on Stone Creek bakery toasted brioche (or on a bed of green salad for $1.50). Options include Costa Rican black bean & egg with roasted corn, poblano, cilantro and lime relish, Lizano salsa and Asadero cheese ($7); Avocado with an over-easy egg, Sriracha mayo, and zesty pickled relish featuring charred scallion, pickled onion, jalapeno and cilantro ($7.50) and a simple bacon, egg and cheddar cheese sandwich ($6.50).

Waffles

You can also order up "Liege-style" waffles (if you've had Press waffles, you've got the idea), which can be ordered plain (and yes, even to go) with Maple Valley syrup and cultured butter ($6) or with toppings.

Choices include mixed berry preserves and almond butter; coffee butter, syrup, bacon, espresso powder and whipped cream; Purple Door malted vanilla ice cream, chocolate drizzle, rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream; or Gruyere sauce, over easy egg and Jones Dairy hickory smoked bacon ($7-8.50).

Yogurt and sides

Housemade yogurt bowls feature either housemade yogurt (or coconut yogurt for an additional $1.50) and a variety of toppings. There are standards like mixed berry preserves with toasted almond and oat granola ($6); peaches and blueberries with wild blueberry compote and poppy seeds ($6.50) or more inventive options like rose water yogurt with lemon curd, candied lemon, toasted pistachios and pistachio oil ($7).

Additional items include an oatmeal bowl with seasonal fruit, maple syrup, toasted almond oat granola and a choice of milk ($5), toast with honey or a choice of jams ($2.75) or seasonal fruit ($4). There are also side salads, country ham and bacon ($3 each).

Grand opening week specials

During the cafe’s grand opening week, guests will be treated to a number of specials:

  • May 25: one free coffee-based beverage per person
  • May 26: free cookie and coloring sheet for all children, plus free Stone Creek pins
  • May 27: guests will receive a buy-one-get-one free latte coupon to use at any Stone Creek cafe
  • May 28: free Stone Creek coffee mugs for the first 100 customers
  • May 29: free quarter-pound of Cream City coffee for the first 200 customers
  • May 30: 20 percent off all coffee beans and swag

Stone Creek Cafe on Downer is open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.