Volume One Special Coverage: Pulling Together While Staying Apart

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Eating Well

Menomonie café mixes breakfast with community

Brett Bachman, photos by Tim Mather

The Apothecary Café encourages interaction, eschewing things like free wi-fi for group seating arrangements.
The Apothecary Café encourages interaction, eschewing things like free wi-fi for
group seating arrangements.

There is an ancient Chinese proverb that states, “If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.”

Leland Brenholt and Suzanne Lombardo, owners of Apothecary Café in Menomonie, are more interested in the third option. Breakfast, tea ,and community is their mission statement, and working towards a better world is what they intend to do with their business.

The concept of an apothecary and restaurant under one roof is an idea born on the Silk Road – the 4,000-mile route first traveled by European traders to China in the first century B.C. Back in those days, the taverns along the path contained apothecaries to treat weary travelers. Brenholt, who has a degree in acupuncture and herbal medicine, operates a small practice connected to the café in order to better serve his clients.

It all started with a “Saints and Angels” breakfast that Brenholt and Lombardo organized a few years ago for a few friends and those in the community who were not getting adequate meals. It became a regular event, and eventually snowballed itself into the café as it stands today. Apothecary currently takes donations and offers “suspended meals” to anyone in need. All one has to do is ask.

“Everything we’re doing is a little different,” Brenholt said. “Apothecary is a place to nourish the body, the mind, and the heart.”

That nourishment starts with the food Apothecary serves. The café is a breakfast joint that prides itself on serving fresh, whole foods. Word of mouth is quickly establishing crepes as the signature menu item, though the biscuits and gravy are definitely worth a try as well. A small lunch menu is in the works, but breakfast is the hallmark of Apothecary’s business.

Serving the community is at the forefront of Brenholt and Lombardo’s vision as well, through the atmosphere and events held at the café. You won’t find any wireless Internet, and the tables all sit four or more. The pair is hoping this encourages people to unplug and interact with one another.

Friday nights are when Apothecary lights up, featuring various types of entertainment and events, including music, movies, and stand-up comedy. A beer and wine license has lent itself to a “Friday night date night” dinner from 6-11pm as well.

The décor within Apothecary is meant to make customers feel at home, according to Lombardo.

“I look at it, and I see an extension of my house, because I want it to feel like you’re sitting in our living room,” Lombardo said.

Another priority for the pair was accessibility for everyone, especially families. There’s even a dry erase board wall to entertain children during their visit.

“There’s been a real neat mix of people in here on any given day,” Lombardo said. “It’s been pretty amazing to see the generation gaps bridged.”

The Apothecary Café is located at 1414 9th St. E, Menomonie. You can call them at 715-231-2233.

Lasker Jewelers
Lasker Jewelers

Pulling Together Partners

The following organizations are currently supporting Volume One’s work in the community during the pandemic:

Lasker Jewelers

L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library, Eau Claire

Downtown Eau Claire Inc DECI

University of Wisconsin Eau Claire

Pablo Group

Wisconsin Independent Network

Middle West Management

Bon Iver

Royal Credit Union

Silver Spring

Evergreen Surgical

Charter Bank

Chippewa Valley Technical College

The Murty Henriksen Family

The Larry and Marie Past Family

The Dan and Kerry Kincaid Family

Anton and Rae Schilling-Smets

Brady and Jeanne Foust

If your organization is interested in supporting Volume One during this difficult time, nick@volumeone.orgcontact us.