As is the case for many Green Bay locals, Kavarna Coffeehouse tops the list of places we want to hang out. In my college years, it was a luxury to gather with friends over board games and lattes; in my newly married years it was a short bike ride from my home and a place to connect with the hubby and work on our various creative pursuits; and as a new mom it is the coffeehouse that has a play area (ingenious!) to keep my roaming 15-month-old occupied while I get to dress cute and interact with adults. No matter your age or your reason, Kavarna is the place. It’s full of positive energy, natural light, playful architecture, and, of course, scrumptious treats.
Green Bay Coffee Shop
The news of Kavarna changing hands may have come as a shock, and you might be fearful that your favorite spot is going to lose all its best qualities. But the new owners, Kayla Viste and Mike Hastreiter, are friends and clients of ours, and we are happy to say that is not the case. “We love Kavarna for all the same reasons the average person loves Kavarna,”Â Mike says, as we sit down over coffee. “And we wouldn’t come in and get rid of all the things we love. That just doesn’t make sense,” he states simply.
Mike was born and raised in Green Bay, and went on to college at UWGB where he earned his bachelors and masters and met Kayla. Kayla grew up in Door County, and, after earning her bachelors at UWGB, attended UIC for her graduate degree. While attending college, Kayla worked as a barista at local coffee shops and found she loved the atmosphere. “All throughout my schooling working at those places, I always dreamed of owning my own coffeeshop,” she says.
Years later, the couple began making plans to enter the world of entrepreneurship, and Kayla reflected back on her experience as a barista, which drew them to owning a coffee shop. When they found out Kavarna was for sale, they knew it was the perfect fit. Â “I love that Kavarna is community center that brings people together and that is a really good feeling we want to keep going,” Kayla says.
Both Kayla and Mike have management and food service Â backgrounds “We’ve done the parts but not the sum,” Mike muses, thinking about the job ahead. “But we are really excited to take over and try this out.”
Kayla and Mike live in De Pere where they raise their 11-year-old daughter, Dezi, who is into music and sports. “She is super excited. She wants to be super involved…Perhaps more involved than she can be at this point,” Kayla says. “She won’t clean anything at home, but she’s super pumped about wiping tables here,” Kayla laughs. In their spare time the couple enjoys creative pursuits, baking, and home-brewing. They recently began making their own kombucha and plan to introduce their homemade kombucha in a “kombucharator”. “It’s just going to be another option for people to enjoy in addition to our chilled teas,” Mike reassures customers who may fear their favorite drinks being replaced. “We just want to maintain the quality and keep things consistent. Our main goal is going to be working with and perfecting what is already here.”
Kavarna itself has happy memories for Mike and Kayla. “I remember coming here with friends for what we called ‘Kavarna-burbia’ with my friends. There’s this board game called ‘Suburbia’ and we would meet here and everyone would get food and drinks, hang out and play,” Mike reflects. “I think that’s the kind of place [Kavarna] is for a lot of people.”
Kayla and Mike plan to run Kavarna full time. They believe a business as big and community-centered as Kavarna requires all their attention. “We’ll be here, we’ll be around and hopefully people can get to know us,” Mike says. “We strongly believe that if you’re going to own a business, you should be all in. We want this to be our living. We want to be here when we’re needed, you know? Who could have a better office than this anyway?” jokes Mike.
There are no big changes on the horizon for Kavarna, but there are a few small things to look forward to. Other than the introduction of fresh kombucha, they are looking at making a few upgrades to the play area and starting a new arts program. “We are also super excited about introducing Dark Roast Art nights where adults could come for arts and crafts night,” Kayla says. “Our general hope is to work with local artists to provide this,” Mike adds. The adult classes will take place in the evening (possibly monthly or bi-monthly) and occasional daytime classes called Light Roast Arts will offer STEAM programming for parents and children to enjoy together.
We finished our chat by talking about favorite coffee drinks. While Kayla loves lattes best, Mike confesses that his drink favorites change month to month, “I feel like I’m affected by season, but I think my favorite overall coffee drink is light roasted coffee,” he pauses. “But I like to do geeky things with it like pour-over combinations.”
Whatever your favorite coffee drink, Kavarna will still be there to serve it. You can be sure we’ll be there as well, devouring tortellini pasta salad and chocolate chunk cookies, and chasing a bald baby who likes to wander around scowling at strangers. Cheers!