By Mary Boyle
For the past 17 years, Aaron Rossmiller and Kat Chronis have been running at least one version of Lakeside Music & Naturals – a venture that has combined both of their interests in one business: one part music store (offering instruments for sale, lessons, repairs & appraisals) and one part natural childrens store/boutique (offering everything from wooden toy instruments to fair trade jewelry and clothing, to personal care products made with natural ingredients). Music, though, is what has tied it all together, from the concerts they attend on a regular basis to the Music Together classes for young children that Kat has been offering for the past several years.
After the couple opened their first store in Sheboygan in 2005, they spent several years trying to find the right location in Ozaukee County, beginning at the Cedar Creek Settlement and then trying two different locations in Grafton, but they couldn't find the right fit. Interestingly, it was another mutual love that brought them to Port Washington: coffee. A manager at the Smith Bros. Coffee House, who regularly hosted live music and was a customer of theirs, told them about a space opening up across the street. Regular visits to Smith Bros. saw them through the growth of their store, Kat's music classes for children, the birth of their second child, hours of Kat's grad school work, adopting a new puppy, and the opening of a third store in Manitowoc. Then, Smith Bros. closed in September of 2021.
"Downtown traffic dropped after Smith Bros. left," Kat said. "You did not have the people walking through like you once did."
With their convenient coffee supply gone and reduced traffic to their store, the couple decided to start yet another venture: a coffee shop of their own inside Lakeside Music & Naturals. The name, Banjo's Brews Coffee, comes from the rescue pup they adopted, whom they aptly named Banjo Kazoo. They sourced their fair trade organic coffee from local Milwaukee roasters, Colectivo (the same coffee roaster Smith Bros. used) and Aaron, himself, has not only built the counters and set up the kitchen, but he's also the one making their bakery.
Music remains the theme, even for the coffee shop. The menu offers "Classicals" (such as a cappucino, latte or Americano) or "Melodies" (such as fruit smoothies or frozen lemonade); drink specials are named with musical inspiration, such as this week's "blackbird," a frozen blackberry lemonade slushie that is delightful and refreshing. Regular live music is something the couple really hopes to add to the Banjo's Brews schedule, along with soups and sandwiches, come fall. The focus of the menu will be plant-based and cater to vegetarians, vegans, and those with other dietary restrictions.
Although the opening took a bit longer than they'd expected, it came just in the nick of time: Kat is due with the couple's third child on September 11th and is about to start her final year of grad school, which will make her a family nurse practitioner when she's done. If anybody needs coffee, it's these people. For now, they're working out the kinks, continuing to work on the space, and planning for their Grand Opening, which will take place on Saturday, August 27th from noon to 4 p.m., where they'll be offering delicious bakery for both people and their dogs, as well as live music from 2-4 p.m. from the students of Annette Meyer Studio in Grafton. Ten percent of the bakery and drink proceeds from the day will go to the Ozaukee Campus of the Wisconsin Humane Society.
For more information about Lakeside Music & Naturals and all they have to offer, go to www.lakesidemusicstore.com/. To keep up with what's happening at Banjo's Brews, go to www.facebook.com/banjosbrewscoffee.
Food: it's something we all have in common, seeing as everyone needs to eat. Luckily, we have a plethora of Farmers Markets to get fresh, local food all over Ozaukee County; and, if you do it right, you can hit one almost every day of the week! Here are the details:
Port Washington Port's Farmers Market will be the first to open for the season on Saturday, June 2nd, during the Port Family Pirate Daze. Main Street is closed between Franklin and Wisconsin Streets from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. every Saturday from June 2nd through October 27th, except July 14th (because of Fish Day), with fresh produce, honey, soaps, bakery, live music, and more.
Saukville Located at Veterans Park in the center of downtown, Saukville's Farmers Market happens every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., beginning on June 24th and going through October (except September 3rd), with fresh produce, flowers, and arts and crafts.
Thiensville Thiensville's Village Market opens Tuesday, June 12th at Village Park, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and will continue every Tuesday through October 16th. Live music and The Best "Dam" Chef Competition are some of the highlights of this market, aside from fresh food, flowers, and more.
Cedarburg The Cedarburg Makers & Growers Market, which features a variety of artisans and locally grown produce, happening every Friday from June 8th through October 26th from 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. in the Cedarburg Cultural Center parking lot. located at the corner of Washington Ave. and Mill St.
Grafton Grafton's Farmers Market happens Thursdays from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. at Veteran's Park beginning July 12th and through September.Vendors include many varieties of farm-fresh, home grown produce, flowers, honey, fresh-baked breads, Seasonings, Cheese Curds, Hand-made soaps, Balms, and sprays, popcorn, gourmet chocolates and more. Mel's Charities will be serving pulled pork sammys, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, brats and hot dogs, as well as food trucks selling cupcakes, crepes, tacos and more. In addition, the Grafton Public Library will be joining the Market each Thursday for Story Time with songs, rhymes and stories for young children and their families, and Riveredge Nature Center will be doing Kayaking and Tree Climbing on certain dates.
Fredonia A relative newbie on the Farmers Market scene, the Fredonia Farmers Market takes place at the Fredonia Government Center from 2-6 p.m. every Wednesday from June 13th through October 31st.
If you just can't make it to the market, there are other ways to get your local food! Outpost in Mequon is committed to local and regional produce and products, with several of their items coming from producers within 100 miles of the co-op. There are also a number of farms in Oz that sell directly to consumers, including Witte's Vegetable Farm and Kay's Home Farm (which has pasture-raised beef) in Cedarburg, Rare Earth Farm in Belgium (which is a CSA, but also has an online store), Polzin Farms in Grafton (which has pick your own strawberries, and more!), The Victory Garden Farm (which is hoping to add CSA shares soon), Willoway Farm CSA (which even has flower shares) in Fredonia, and Wellspring CSA in Newburg.
Do you see something we've missed? Contact us, and we'll add it to the article! Mary@OzaukeeLivingLocal.com
Pat and Amy Wilborn have a passion for local food -- so much so that they started their very own aquaponics business, PortFish, Ltd., out of their home back in 2009, growing greens in a closed loop system in which fish waste fertilizes the plants, which then clean the water for the fish. While the demand for local food was growing, the availability of it was limited to the Farmers Market season, from June through October. In 2010, Pat and Amy helped to extend the season by starting an indoor Winter Farmers Market.
Now in its 6th year, the Winter Farmers Market will return to the First Congregational Church on Webster Street in Port Washington each Saturday in November and December from 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (except 11/26 and 12/24), with live music and a wide variety of locally grown food and locally produced goods.
Visitors can purchase meat and eggs from Burkel Family Farms in Fredonia, honey from Bethel's Seven Hills Honey or chicken, pork, lamb, turkey or eggs raised right in Port Washington from Lone Rooster Farm. There's delicious food and bakery from Chalkboard Kitchen in Mequon, produce from Wellspring in Newburg, and so much more!
Live music has been a part of the market from the beginning, and Amy Wilborn is often one of the people providing it. Her traditional Irish Band, Green Sails, will help kick off the first Farmers Market on Saturday, November 5th. Amy plays the fiddle and sings, along with band mates Bonnee Beth on percussion, tin whistle, story-telling & dancing, and Sandy Weisto on guitar & vocals.
The Winter Farmers Market is an excellent place to connect with the community, as well as to meet your local food producers. First Congregational Church is located at 131 N. Webster St. in Port Washington. For more information, visit the Winter Farmers Market Facebook Page, email email@example.com, or call (414) 202-7840.
Food is a common denominator. Whatever our differences may be, we all need to eat, and food has a way of bringing people together.
In the past several years, the push to buy local food has even surpassed the trend to buy organic food; this is because the money that we spend on locally grown food stays in our local economy, and also because the food doesn't travel as far to get to us, which means it's kinder to the environment. Additionally, in our age of electronic disconnect, people have a need to reconnect -- even as far as to connect with the people who are producing the food we eat. One of the best ways to do this is at a Farmers Market.
With the new addition of the Fredonia Farmers Market this year, Ozaukee County can now claim a total of six Farmers Markets to attend over the spring, summer, and fall. Even better, the markets are spread throughout the week, so you can buy local food throughout the season, throughout Oz! Here is the lineup:
What to do if you want to buy local, but can't get to a Farmers Market? Ozaukee is very lucky to have two grocery stores that really support local food: Outpost Natural Foods in Mequon, and Slow Pokes Local Food in Grafton, which also specializes in gluten-free food.
Every time you purchase something that is produced locally, you are casting a vote for that item; telling suppliers that this is the kind of item you prefer to purchase. The more local food we purchase, the more local food will be grown, and the better for our local economy and our health!