Kaffee 1858 and Public House opens

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Owner Sara Pattison opened Kaffee 1858 in Guttenberg earlier this month. (Press photo by Molly Moser)

By Molly Moser

A place for sharing food, drink, and conversation opened in Guttenberg this month. Kaffee 1858 and Public House is located in the historic building at 7 Schiller Street. Owner Sara Pattison subscribes to a motto quoted from Vincent Van Gogh: “In my painting of the Night Café, I’ve tried to express the idea that the café is a place where you can ruin yourself, go mad, commit crimes.” 

Readers may recognize the quote from a new mural painted outside the building by Lora Kolker, artist and barista at Kaffee 1858. Pattison and business partner Becky Hefel attended a Van Gogh exhibit in Chicago, where Hefel noticed the quote. "What struck me about it was the fact that whenever I travel I find a local coffee house with a quirky atmosphere  conducive to eclectic thinking, food, and fun," Hefel told The Press. "We want to have that place we look for when we travel here in Guttenberg."

The new Kaffee will serve customers from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday and eventually until 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. At the bar, craft beers and wines will be featured. Several will be local, and unique drinks will include bloody beers (jalepeno ale with Bloody Mary mix and traditional accompaniments), sangria, and wine cocktails. 

“It’s all about experiences. When you come in and have never tried something, don’t be shy about asking to taste it,” said Pattison. She hopes to serve Clayton County-raised lamb in September. Hamburger served in the restaurant is custom ground by Wholesale Meats in Dyersville.

Kaffee 1858 and Public House will offer more than dining experiences. Smith will teach cooking classes and the popular trivia night will return this winter. Hefel serves as the restaurant’s voice on the internet, and as a source for some of the Kaffee’s unique off-menu offerings. While visiting a friend in San Francisco, Hefel toured a Victorian hotel run by an elderly woman in Haight-Ashbury. "She had this round table right in the middle of the dining area. Only 12 people could sit around it so you had to make reservations, and every Sunday morning, she had different discussion topic." Hefel plans to bring this activity to Kaffee 1858, especially on wintery Saturday afternoons.

The restaurant will also subscribe to weekly newspapers from Oregon, Maine, and New Orleans to help spark interesting conversation. 

These ideas inspired the restaurant’s name. “A public house was a gathering place for people to meet and talk about the times and share their views,” Pattison explained. “That then turned into ‘pub.’” The first part of the name, Kaffee (pronounced calf-ee) is in homage to the city’s German heritage. The building at 7 Schiller Street, formerly Doug’s Steak House, was built in 1858.

“We want to be what Doug was. He was an iconic person, a showman; he had great hospitality,” Pattison told The Press. A 10-foot by 4-foot mural painted behind the bar will replicate a photograph of the original bar. Outdoor seating makes the restaurant pet-friendly, and an electrified banquette paired with a wifi connection makes the inside laptop-friendly. A restored record player adds to the lounge ambience, as do plush chairs and attractive artwork on the walls. 

Weekends will feature a brunch menu, and there will be full breakfast and lunch specials daily. Carbonated sodas made to order and snack cereals are a fun addition for children and children-at-heart.

Kolker has been learning traditional espresso preparation methods and will be serving smoothies and freshly roasted Kickapoo Coffee beans from Viroqua, Wis. Kickapoo trades directly with small-scale, sustainable producers and roasts beans twice weekly, hand-delivering them to Kaffee 1858 the next day. 

Also sourced locally are baked goods from River’s Edge Bakery in Guttenberg and maple syrup from Great River Maple in Garnavillo. “We want to feature as many local things as possible,” said Pattison. “We’re going to have things that are health-friendly – people have so many restrictions and are trying to eat healthier.” Pattison also plans to add German specials to the menu, which she describes as fast casual. French fries, she says, are the only fried item on the menu. 

Pattison has been hosting private parties in her home since she graduated from Kirkwood College with an Associate’s degree in culinary arts. She specializes in savory dishes. Inspired by a trip to Cuba this spring, Pattison says her favorite item on Kaffee 1858’s menu is the Cuban sandwich. Ham, pulled pork, swiss cheese, mustard and pickles are pressed and toasted, served hot on Cuban bread. 

On the sweet side is Saralyn Smith, who moved to Guttenberg this May after leaving her position at the University of Iowa to join her classmate Pattison in the new venture. Smith has worked at the Hotel at Kirkwood Center where she served as a pastry chef and adjunct professor, then as the University of Iowa pastry chef where she oversaw two bakeries, breakfast pastries, dorm bakeries, and bakery items for food service and retail locations, as well as catering to University presidents. Smith will be working in the kitchen, serving up meals as well as desserts.

“We will be offering a variety of seasonal desserts, and hope everyone will find a favorite,” Smith told The Press. In the evenings, the Kaffee will feature a rotation of drink-inspired mini cupcakes with flavors like margarita and white Russian. “The stout cupcake with peanut butter frosting and a pretzel crunch is going to be a winner,” said Smith. Cheesecake, a seasonally appropriate shortcake, and homemade biscotti will also be offered.

“We really want people to think of it as a gathering place, especially when winters get long, to go and strike up conversations with others,” said Hefel. For more information, visit www.kaffee1858.com.

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