Home / Food / Eat/Drink / Sprocket Café Brings Coffee Drinks and a Hip Vibe to South End of Bay View

Sprocket Café Brings Coffee Drinks and a Hip Vibe to South End of Bay View

Aug. 1, 2017
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When Juliet Popovic and her brother, Dave, opened Rusty Sprocket Antiques on the south end of Kinnickinnic Avenue, near St. Francis, in March 2013, a coffee shop wasn’t necessarily on Popovic’s radar. But she often served free coffee to their customers as they browsed in the shop. That customer-friendly gesture, along with the fact that there was no coffee shop in the vicinity, planted the seed for what would become Sprocket Café (3385 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), which opened November 2016 in the adjoining space next to Rusty Sprocket Antiques.

Midwest Yarn previously occupied the café space, and when the storefront became available, Popovic snapped it up, but she wasn’t prepared with finances or a business plan. Enter Gwenn Barker, Popovic’s best friend, who helped Popovic open and is co-owner of the café. They also got a loan through Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC).

Popovic and her husband, along with Barker and café manager Rob Parrish, remodeled the space to make it café-ready. The unique counter is accented with thick pallet wood. The tables, chairs and décor are a fun mishmash of vintage pieces, including a 1970s earthy orange portable TV—the kind found on almost every kitchen counter during the disco decade. Customers can play a board game or read while enjoying one of the unique coffee drinks or a bagel sandwich. Kitschy coffee mugs are for sale in the café, or those searching for more antiques can grab their coffee and walk through a door that connects the café to Rusty Sprocket Antiques.

Sprocket Café serves Anodyne Coffee. Customers can choose a straight up cup of java, latte, cappuccino, espresso or one of the unique coffee drinks Popovic added to the menu. “I like trying different stuff,” she said, “we have the Oaxacan latte, made with Mexican chocolate. It’s like a mocha, but with cinnamon; some people call it a Mexican hot chocolate. We also have affogato, which has a scoop of vanilla gelato and two shots of espresso. We also create weird drinks. I made one with two scoops of espresso-flavored gelato, cold coffee and whipped cream. We also have malted milk, so we can make malted lattes. It’s a weirdly good flavor that reminds you of your childhood.”

Sprocket Café serves muffins from Jen’s Sweet Treats. Cookies from East Side Ovens’ will return to the menu, and trail mixes and nuts will soon be available. Popovic said they’re slowly adding more food as the business grows and they get more equipment. They recently got a stand-up cooler and now offer bagel sandwiches: turkey and Swiss, black forest ham and cheddar, or roast beef and cheddar, all made with Sprocket Café’s own aioli spread—a garlicky, Mediterranean version of mayonnaise. Vegetarians can grab a veggie bagel with hummus, cukes, green leaf lettuce and red onion.

There’s also a bike shop in the basement, and on weekends customers can get their bicycles tuned up or have flat tires fixed while enjoying a latte.

For more information, visit sprocketcafe.weebly.com.

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