Janesville60.3°

Whitewater café a community hot spot

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December 10, 2007
— The Greenhouse Café is an intergenerational oasis that offers customers a break from harried lives, time to socialize, read or build friendships.

For George Adams, a retired UW-Whitewater English professor, the café is an inviting stop in his travels around town.


“It’s a nice environment for reading and working,” Adams said. “It’s pleasant being here, especially in the dead of winter. It has friendly people. It’s the sort of business that puts life in the town and makes it more interesting.”


Set within West Main Street’s commercial district, the café’s foundation was built on strong ethical beliefs and practices.


In recognition of its all-around character, the café recently was recognized by the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau by being named a runner-up in the 1-to-10 employee category for the bureau’s Torch Awards for Business Ethics and Integrity.


The award recognizes businesses and charities for ethical practices, service, reputation, advertising, peer recognition, management practices and employee training.


To be considered for the award, companies and charities must submit a portfolio that explains many of the ethical parts of their businesses.


Vicki Fiedler, co-owner of the café, received help creating the portfolio from UW-Whitewater’s Business Ethics Student Association. It was the students’ idea to nominate the café for the award, and they worked on the project for a year, Fiedler said.


“Their energy level was high,” she said. “It was a lot of fun working with the BESA students. They were very dedicated, hardworking, responsible and open to ideas. This was beneficial to both BESA and us.”


The students wanted the café to be recognized for its strong ethics, said K. Praveen Parboteeah, associate professor of management and BESA adviser.


Examples of the café’s ethics include staff tracking down customers to return change left on tables and dropped cell phones.


While Fiedler was bustling around the café Thursday, a customer was lying on a couch in the greenhouse covered by a blanket she brought from home. Surrounded by large plants, she appeared relaxed and content.


Her boots and coat were placed nearby.


“We tried to create a relaxing environment,” Fiedler said. “We wanted people to come here and not have to think about all of the issues or challenges in their personal lives.”


And from all indications, that’s what happening.


The café often is the first stop on Megan Kiecker’s drive from her Watertown home to classes at UW-Whitewater.


“It’s a nice and relaxing atmosphere,” said the 21-year-old university senior, while reading a newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee.


And the coffee always is good here, Kiecker said.


Adams, who rides his bicycle even in the winter, found a comfortable chair in the greenhouse to read the paper and drink a cup of coffee.


Fiedler, who previously worked in the corporate sector, entered the venture with strong beliefs and years of knowledge.


Although she employs college students, she also has used the café as a training ground for her four children.


“They learn how to treat people with respect and how to work with people,” Fiedler said. “I tell them they are on stage. If a customer comes in a bad mood, you make them in a good mood by smiling.”


Check it out

The Greenhouse Café at 1155 W. Main St., Whitewater, is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.


In addition to offering a variety of coffees, the café offers a light breakfast menu, muffins, scones and bagels. It also sells fresh-cut flowers and gourmet foods. Bands also play once a week.


For more information, call (262) 473-5151.



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