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"No, we're not going to do it."
That’s what Steve Buchholz kept telling himself every time he entertained the idea of opening his own restaurant. That changed in 2007, when Buchholz and his wife Allison saw an old coffee shop for sale at the corner of Monona Drive and Buckeye Road. “Six weeks later, we were signing papers,” Buchholz says.
Those papers led the couple to open Crema Café, a cheery breakfast and lunch spot serving favorites like pancakes, eggs and sandwiches. One of Crema’s most popular lunch dishes is the Blue Bird—a chicken salad sandwich made with dried blueberries, walnuts, cheddar, greens and all-natural, antibiotic-free chicken, served on a baguette (pictured at right). Another highlight is the Ham So Gouda sandwich, made with horseradish mayo and homemade tomato marmalade on sourdough. Crema also has its own in-house baker, who churns out such morning delights as blackberry hazelnut scones and peach apple turnovers—all perfect complements to their Alterra coffee.
Before opening Crema, Buchholz worked as a chef at places like the now-closed White Horse Inn and Marigold Kitchen. Crema was a deliberate change in direction.
“The original intention was to keep it a small coffee shop,” says Buchholz. “I was trying to take a step back from the hot kitchen.”
But three years after opening, Buchholz seized an opportunity to double the café’s kitchen and dining areas, broadening their food offerings. Crema now also does catering, but not just for business lunches—for kids too. They offer wholesome, healthy meals with quality ingredients for parties and events, a venture Crema hopes to expand.
“Nobody else does it in town,” Buchholz says. “Kids’ menus are often deep-fried stuff; we knew we had something more to offer.”
Crema Cafe 4124 Monona Dr. 224-1150, goodcrema.com
Grace Edquist is associate/web editor of Madison Magazine.