By Mary Boyle
Back in 1992, Starbucks, a coffee shop chain that began in Seattle in 1971, had just gone public, and though the cafe culture had taken the West Coast by storm, it was largely unheard of in the Midwest until David Monroe opened Ozaukee's very first one on Washington Avenue in Cedarburg that same year. Twenty-six years later, the Java House has remained a mainstay on Cedarburg's main street, despite the addition of three more coffee houses in downtown Cedarburg, including a Starbucks, and despite the fact that there have been three different owners over that period of time; now, there's a fourth one.
When Lisa and Dan Bostrack and their two daughters, Ali and Annika, arrived in Cedarburg in 2010, the circumstances were not ideal; the urgent need to be close to Dan's aging parents and major health issues within their own family forced them to abruptly leave behind a very close-knit community and Lisa's family in Colorado. To say they were homesick was an understatement, but they found one place in town that felt like a home away from home in the Java House, which reminded Lisa of the coffee shops in Boulder that she spent time in as a teenager and young adult.
"We have some serious food sensitivities in our family and, at the time, Java House was one of the few places that had gluten-free bakery, and it was good. It was a great place to connect with the kids, and a safe place they could go to and work or read a book," Lisa said. "Every time we would go, we would daydream about what we would do with it if we owned it, but I didn't mean it. I'm still shocked when people ask and I say, 'Yes, I own Java House.'"
Then again, Java House had felt like "their place" for years; in fact, when Ali went off to Madison for college, Lisa knew she was going to be fine when she called home to tell her mother the news that she had found her Java House. This past summer, Lisa began working part-time at the Java House to make a little extra money at a place she loved being at and, when the current owner offered her the chance to take over, she realized it was something she could be good at. "I take care of people. My children are about to fly, and I want to continue doing what I do best, which is being a hostess and taking care of people, and I can do that here."
Java House has always roasted their own coffee, and this information has been passed from owner to owner. Lisa's husband, Dan, and one of their employees, Brad, have taken over the roasting, and they are gradually making the place their own, while trying to maintain consistency where it matters. They've brought in Anodyne for their espresso, new bakery and food options, and they just brought in gluten-free soups that are made fresh each day.
Moving forward, Lisa hopes to make the place even more family-friendly and teenager-friendly, along with continuing to add more healthy food options, particularly for people with food sensitivities. The relationships, though, are the part of Java House that she has already come to value the most. "The relationships with the kids that work for me, the regulars, and everyone who comes in the door; I love witnessing their life and their connections, and getting to be a part of that."
The Java House is located at W63N653 Washington Avenue in historic downtown Cedarburg. Hours are 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.