WALDO — The reopening of the Waldo Cafe is truly a best-of-both-worlds scenario.
Not only do dedicated patrons get to enjoy their old favorites, but new owners Christina and Brad Leicht have the opportunity to live out a lifelong dream.
How it came to be
"I've always had an interest in having a small cafe or a small restaurant or food truck type because I have truly always felt that food brings people together," Christina Leicht described. "People can have great conversations, lots of laughs and just that wonderful sense of fellowship and belonging. I've always felt that's been a good calling for me, and I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur."
But, as we all know, sometimes life gets busy.
"As time goes on things happen or it's never the right time," Leicht shared. "For whatever reason, I had some personal things medically and that really makes you reflect on your life and where you want it to go.
"Then we saw that the Waldo Cafe was up for sale," she continued. "Through conversations with our banker and Ray York from the the Sheboygan County Economic Development Corporation, we felt confident this was the path we wanted to go down."
The Leichts started the process last fall and closed on the cafe on Aug. 31 of this year. The cafe closed for a week while they made some improvements, and the newly renamed Leicht's Waldo Cafe opened on Sept. 8.
Honoring the past but surging forward
Leicht was very determined to keep the integrity of the cafe the same, but wanted to bring the cozy Americana breakfast and lunch spot back home.
"We didn't want to make too many changes in terms of the menu," she said. "The menu continues to be very similar with the Americana-type foods from the very beginning of when the cafe became in restaurant in about 1984/85. It's that hearty breakfast with eggs, skillets, omelets, homemade American fries and hash browns."
They have been playing with the menu from time to time with new daily specials to see what tried and true customers and new customers alike respond to. Last week's Eggs Florentine were a big hit.
"My vision for the main dining room was to create an environment which was very country and farm-like, like you were coming back to your grandma's house or out in the country where you'd all come together for a very relaxed and peaceful environment," she said.
With minor renovations including changing out the light fixtures, painting and changing up the decor, the Leichts have accomplished that vision. But it goes even beyond the decor for this cafe.
"My intention is very clear—to bring people together both in this community and from different areas, reaching out and bringing them here to get a sense of belonging and a sense of happiness," Leicht described. "It's very much who I am as a person. It's about trying to make everyone feel comfortable, making an environment that's all-inclusive, making people feel welcome. You don't know what kind of day someone is having, what's happening in their life. That human contact, a smile or friendly conversation for 15 or 20 or 30 minutes—the impact that can have on somebody else's life is huge ... If people can come in and experience that, that's what it's all about in life."
In terms of future plans, Leicht said she wants to incorporate more of Waldo's history into the design, including the old lumbar yard. Additionally, she is looking in the next six months or so to begin working on reopening the bar attached to the restaurant.
"Some of our top sellers, especially for breakfast, are the meat-lovers skillets or our omelettes," Leicht said. "We also have homemade American fries that are made with lots of love, and it can be tasted in the flavors. We also get lots of compliments on our Eggs Benedict."
They've also added homemade soups to the menu.