In the kitchens of a small farming community, Diane Wiesbrock learned the secrets of baking.
“I’ve been baking since I was 10. I have no formal training and never went to school for it. I learned it all from my grandma and my mom,” she said.
Now, she is bringing those recipes to Cronies Cafe & Espresso Bar in downtown Waupaca.
Wiesbrock became the restaurant’s new owner on March 1.
“I’ve talked about this forever,” she said of owning such a business.
Late last year, she and her husband John talked to Ben Lyons and considered different ideas, wanting to find the best place to incorporate her love of baking.
Then, Lyons talked to Carey and Amy Simpson about Wiesbrock.
Simpsons had owned Cronies for 11 years, and while their restaurant was not on the market, they decided to consider selling it.
The two couples met, and soon Wiesbrock was spending time at Cronies, getting to know the business and the people.
“I just think it was the right time and the right point for both of us,” Wiesbrock said.
The couple moved to Waupaca in the summer of 2006 when her husband, who works for ThyssenKrupp Waupaca, was transferred to the main office.
Up until becoming the owner of Cronies, Wiesbrock worked at First National Bank.
“I got to the point where I really missed my baking,” she said, explaining that she baked a lot when they lived in central Illinois.
With their two children grown, Wiesbrock was ready for a change.
“I think Amy and Carey and John and I had a lot of the same ideas. They were wonderful to work with,” she said. “The reason I settled on this is because it has a wonderful following and already a unique menu that stands out. And, I’m bringing my desserts to the table.”
Right now, Wiesbrock is doing about a dessert a day.
She makes cheesecakes, pies and cakes.
“I’m trying to bring my old-fashioned desserts that I learned from my grandma to the table,” she said.
Wiesbrock is also using her grandmother’s pie crust in Cronies’ quiche.
Those with a sweet tooth will also see more of Amanda Wright’s cupcakes at Cronies.
It has been almost a year since she began selling her cupcakes at Cronies. Now, she is going to start selling them every day of the week in variety packs of different flavors.
She will announce the flavors the morning of or night before on her Amanda Cupcake Facebook page. Some of her best sellers are Chocolate Peanut Butter, Red Velvet, Lemon Love Notes (with a raspberry pie baked inside), Orange Dreamsicle and Cinnamon Rolls in Cupcake Liners.
Beginning on Wednesday, April 4, Wright will make special appearances at Cronies during lunchtime (11 a.m. to 1 p.m.), and on those days she will give away free samples of cupcakes or cake pops for people to try.
Wright wants to opens her own Amanda Cupcakery someday and also continues to cater for private events.
She can be contacted at 920-915-3409 or at email@example.com.
Wiesbrock said, “I think it will be a good partnership. She has a following. It all goes back to not everyone wants the same thing. If you offer variety, you get a bigger variety of people.”
Since taking over March 1, Wiesbrock has added burgers to Cronie’s menu.
She is getting the beef from Sweet Grass Farms, which raises 100 percent grassfed cattle, Wiesbrock explained.
“We have a different burger every day. We have had an overwhelming response,” she said. “In two weeks, we’ve gone through 50 pounds of the beef.”
Wiesbrock also looks forward to getting fresh produce this summer from Turner’s Fresh Market and King Berry. The hours at Cronies remain the same: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Another new addition is Cronies’ Box Lunch Menu, available Monday through Friday.
She designed it for those who might not have time to get out of the office for lunch. For a flat fee, people can choose from two different wraps of the day, with a soup or side and also the dessert of the day. The soups, side dishes and dessert of the day will be posted on Facebook each morning.
Delivery is free when there are at least five orders from a business, or people can pick up their order and get a dollar off.
Wiesbrock also plans to begin incorporating her baked goods into the menu, including her specialty sweet breads.
“I’m excited about doing stuff like that,” she said.
Gluten-free wraps and desserts have also been added to the menu.
Her goal is for Cronies to be a place where anyone is able to sit down and have a meal to enjoy, whether they are on a gluten-free diet or are a vegetarian.
Wiesbrock has not removed anything from the previous menu and says she has a great staff.
“They do a great job. They make it possible for me to do what I like to do which is bake for other people,” she said.
Future plans include getting new kitchen equipment “that benefits not only us but Amanda,” Wiesbrock said.
Her hope for the summer of 2013 is to build a patio out back so she can add outdoor seating.
“I’m really excited to be starting this new chapter in my life, and I really can’t think of a better place to start it with,” she said.