CAVU will pass from one Janesville native to another
If you stick with the restaurant business like Dana Wettstein and Matt Kealy did, you could be in charge some day. Then, you can tell someone else to take out the trash.
On Dec. 31, Wettstein, longtime owner of the CAVU Café at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport, will pass the spatula to Kealy, owner of Kealy’s Kafe, 1012 N. Washington St., Janesville.
Kealy’s in Mercy Mall will stay open, Kealy said. The name of the airport restaurant will change to Kealy’s, but he hasn’t decided how he will differentiate the two.
The airport restaurant will be closed for remodeling during January. Kealy plans to open by Feb. 1 and hopes the staff at CAVU will work for him. The menu will offer favorites from both restaurants, he said.
Kealy, 25, got his start at the former Kadee’s Kafe as a dishwasher in 1997. Wettstein, 46, started as a third-shift bus boy at the former Janesville Oasis Restaurant in 1975.
Both are Janesville natives and graduates of Parker High School.
After an 18-year career in the restaurant business, Wettstein is ready for new challenges, he said. In May, he earned a degree in business management from Cardinal Stritch University.
He’s certainly got management experience. Wettstein was paging through old W-2 forms recently and said he’s had 2,000 people pass through his employ, many of them kids working their first jobs.
“I was thinking about it, wondering, if there’s something I’ve done that made a difference,” Wettstein said. “You hope they take something with them, that I’ve steered them in the right direction.”
Wettstein worked his way up from bus boy to management at several restaurants in Janesville and Beloit. In 1989, he bought the Court Street Café, 1519 W. Court St., a popular place for partying Janesvillians at bar time.
He bought CAVU Café in 1995 and closed Court Street Café in 1997.
The view at CAVU has charmed both men. The wall facing the runway is entirely glass and offers a view of colorful planes coming and going. Regulars fly in from Chicago and around the Midwest to park at CAVU and have breakfast.
“You could watch the view for hours,” Wettstein said. “You just get lost in it.”
Wettstein has a service clean the glass wall twice a month. Once, he thought he would lose it when a Lear jet revved up right in front of CAVU, rattling the glass panels.
Wettstein’s advice to Kealy is to remember to delegate.
“It’s a strong thing to do, and it makes things a lot less stressful.”
Wettstein hopes his regulars will stop in to share stories and memories before the end of the month. Through Dec. 31, a customer can get a free cup of coffee for his or her story.
Wettstein will come in for breakfast when the new Kealy’s opens, he said.
“I’ll keep an eye on him,” he said, grinning at Kealy.