It’s where classic and traditional meets quirky and modern. People from all over flock to Cafe Hollander for brunch on Saturday mornings, but there’s a lot more to the cafe than that.
What began with a vision to create a neighborhood cafe like those you would find in the Lowlands of Europe has blossomed into nine local eateries throughout the Milwaukee area.
Among those is the original Cafe Hollander in Wauwatosa, which serves up a wide variety of specialties beloved by many.
Inspired by eclecting Dutch and Belgian grand cafe menus, you will find things like mussels and frites with plenty of dipping sauce options right alongside classic burgers, more elevated entrees, and, of course, brunch specialties.
All of that pairs with hard-to-find Belgian imports, local and global brews, a full coffee menu and cocktails like their famous bloodies.
“To describe the atmosphere at Café Hollander is best to use a word the Dutch use: gezellig,” explained Chelsie Layman, marketing manager for Lowlands Group and Cafe Hollander. “Gezellig can be translated as a cozy, or nice atmosphere, but can also connote the warm feeling you get when spending time with friends.”
That is the feeling Layman said is at the heart of everything at Cafe Hollander.
“At the end of the day, we want all of our guests to leave with this unique, hard-to-describe feeling of “American gezellig,’” she said.
The Reserve at Wauwatosa Village recently had the opportunity to talk with Layman about the food, drinks, and specialties that make Cafe Hollander the Wauwatosa destination it has become. Here’s what she had to share with us:
The Reserve at Wauwatosa Village: What are some of your favorite dishes?
Chelsie Layman: Of course, a favorite dish would be the frites cone—classic or sweet potato—you can’t go wrong! Another favorite is from our brunch every day menu (yeah, brunch every day)is the Brewcity Benedict, which has a house-made cheddar-chive biscuit, breakfast sausage patties, poached local eggs, and hollandaise, or the Pannekoeken which is a traditional Dutch pancake with bacon, apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and apple butter.
The Reserve: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about running a business?
Layman: We’ve learned that it’s all about providing the best experience possible for the customer and especially in the restaurant industry, ensuring that every guest who walks through our doors feels comfortable, welcomed and leaves happier than when they walked in.
The Reserve: Can you describe a moment or moments when you stopped and realized this is why you are doing what you’re doing with your life?
Layman: Every person in our company has different moments, but there are certainly moments on a regular basis where we stop and appreciate the atmosphere and experiences we have created—where friends can meet and catch up over a couple of biers, or a first, second, third or hundredth dates can be shared in comfort. Memories are made every day at our café and it is such a great feeling to be able to provide that for our community.
The Reserve: What advice would you offer to other small business owners?
Layman: Know and understand who you are, why you do what you do, and what your customers want. That, coupled with being an active part of your community is all you need to succeed.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: Cafe Hollander, 7677 W. State Street
WHEN: 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. Friday and Saturday
CONTACT: https://cafehollander.com/locations/#tosavillage, (414) 475-6771