Saving Daisy: How you can help the east-side eatery & other small Madison restaurants survive this winter

MADISON, Wis.– Heading east on Atwood Avenue in the quaint, eponymous neighborhood, you’ll find a collection of small, independently-owned businesses. From clothing shops to ice cream stands, each has a unique history and a devoted customer base.

One of those businesses is Daisy Cafe, located a half-mile west of the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. The restaurant was founded 11 years ago on what its owners call the ‘four C’s’: cafe, cupcakes, coffee, and community. Unfortunately, an unexpected fifth ‘C,’ the coronavirus, has the cafe’s owners now asking their community for support.

Daryl Sisson and Kathy Brooks opened Daisy in 2008, in the middle of the Great Recession. They’re no strangers to adversity, but say the last eight months have been their most difficult of the decade. They expect things to get even worse over the next four months.

Daisy Cafe was one of the Madison businesses that took advantage of the city’s “Streatery” program, which allowed local businesses to extend service into the streets this summer, providing more space for outdoor dining. For Sisson and Brooks, that meant spending $20,000 on paving their parking lot, adding individual tents, and purchasing heaters. The couple agrees the “Streatery” has been a life-saver for their business so far, but say they’re no stranger to Wisconsin winters, and fear Daisy won’t survive to see another spring.

Here’s where you come in.

Like more than a dozen other Madison-area independently-owned restaurants, Sisson and Brooks are asking for your help in keeping their business alive. They’re asking you to consider ordering breakfast or lunch from them or donating to their recently-launched GoFundMe page.

Several other east-side businesses are also relying on online crowdsourcing to survive. Harmony Bar and Mickey’s Tavern launched GoFundMe pages, as did The Old Fashioned, on the Capitol Square.

Our partners at Madison Magazine have compiled a full list of the local restaurants asking for financial help. You can also pick up a copy of the December issue of Madison Magazine for more information on how to support restaurants this winter.