Every small town and village needs its own café. A simple, quiet morning spot with homemade dishes with a country style flavor, a cheap cup of coffee, and a waitress that knows your name and order without having to ask. Lisa’s Café was the last occupant of a small kitchen and dining room at 174 S. Main Street in Vermontville, but shortly after its closing, Angela Keehn came on board with many years of experience in food service and a plan to bring back The Sugar Hut.
The Sugar Hut was a former name of another Vermontville café and restaurant, according to Keehn. In her view the opening of a new café is really the return of The Sugar Hut, something familiar and comfortable in the Vermontville community. With the help of her staff, Keehn plans to bring back some of the beloved recipes of The Sugar Hut, and generally home style cooking she knows locals will enjoy.
The new Sugar Hut menu is simple so far. Breakfast includes a few simple egg and meat dishes with options for pancakes as well. Lunch has a few sandwich standards like a BLT and grilled cheese, as well as burgers, and soup and salad. Dinner includes favorites like shepherd’s pie, Swiss steak, and other classics. Keehn already has dinner specials for each night of the week, which will change and rotate in the coming months.
The Sugar Hut opened the first week of April, and already the small café has adjusted the menu, accommodated taste buds, and received positive community feedback. In her first time as owner of a restaurant, Keehn has taken her experience managing kitchens to provide a fresh taste with an old emphasis on familiarity and customer service. To her, owning a restaurant is less about giving the newest, trendiest dishes, but more about knowing what a target market wants and providing that in the best way possible.
“I’m not here to get rich. I’m here to provide a meeting place to have a drink, eat, and chit chat,” said Keehn. “I want to make sure they (customers) are happy.”
Keehn has lived in the area for about 20 years, by her recollection, and she’s worked in the food service industry for about 25 years. Before taking ownership of The Sugar Hut she was working three jobs. Now her years of experience and hard work are in one place, with her own team, in the community she calls home. Her children went to school in the community, and she wants to continue providing for children and teens by providing a safe, local space for studying, and hanging out, as well as a first job.
Keehn’s grasp of what a local café can mean to a community as a whole with a wide age range is not only admirable, but also needed. When one local business closes its doors, another arises to take its place. Community investment, addressing community needs, and providing good, simple food can make all the difference for a small village.
Readers wanting to learn more about The Sugar Hut can visit the Sugar Hut Café Facebook page, or call (517) 726-0975.