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BizCast 43: Leap of Faith with Bluebird Bakery & Cafe

Episode 43

Leap of Faith with Bluebird Bakery & Cafe

About BizCast Greater La Crosse

We bring you news from the business community. From startups to experienced problem solvers, you’ll get in-depth insight on the challenges and opportunities of doing business in Greater La Crosse. Our show is a collaboration between and BizNews Greater La Crosse ( ).

Full Transcript [ generated by AI]

[00:00:00] Faith Anderson: there’s actually a poem that I wrote that’s sitting out in cafe at the cafe. And it’s basically about myself talking to a bluebird and being like, how are you living your life in freedom?

[00:00:12] Faith Anderson: And how do you live with no anxiety? Tell me this mystery of how you live in victory. And it’s the bluebird answering and saying, sometimes you just have to take a leap.

[00:00:21] Vicki Markussen: Welcome to BizCast Greater La Crosse, a weekly podcast from BizNews. We bring you news from the business community. I am your host and founder, Vicki Markussen. I have a guest today who is Faith Anderson, and she is the manager of Bluebird Cafe.

[00:00:37] Faith Anderson: Bakery and Cafe.

[00:00:40] Vicki Markussen: I knew I missed a word in there.

[00:00:41] Vicki Markussen: Bakery and Cafe. And you are not the sole owner. No.

[00:00:46] Faith Anderson: Explain that. Yeah, so there is me and another girl named Kayla. She is our head baker. And we have a small percentage of ownership and our investment is our time and being managers. at Bluebird. And then we also have two other owners who have been the investors, my brother Joe and his real estate partner, Cody Taylor who have been the investors and have put in a lot towards Bluebird.

[00:01:12] Faith Anderson: And then also along with their wives, who normally also help us with ordering things or giving good advice. You have

[00:01:19] Vicki Markussen: the proverbial lots of cooks in the kitchen, lots of opinions. Okay. So let’s. Let’s start with, this was, this used to be Great Harvest and you were an employee there and many of us saw that she had that up, Jennifer had that up for sale and you said, I think I want to own that.

[00:01:40] Vicki Markussen: Is that how that conversation in your head got

[00:01:42] Faith Anderson: started? Um, not exactly. I actually only worked there for maybe. two to three months just to be trained a little bit on what she was doing and how this at all worked there. It was actually my brother Joe and Cody who saw that it was for sale, and they had the idea of making a cafe. Not buying it but renting it, and then they knew that me and my friend Kayla had the dream of also having a café, and so they had approached us asking if we would like to join them and manage it for them.

[00:02:18] Faith Anderson: You and

[00:02:19] Vicki Markussen: Kayla didn’t know what you were dreaming of, right? Yeah. And

[00:02:25] Vicki Markussen: so bakery is not completely foreign to you and Kayla, right? Like you have a husband ho knows this? 

[00:02:31] Faith Anderson: Well, I didn’t meet my husband until after we were opened. Oh, right. So it was for me, it was completely new. I started from the ground up and just learned as I went. which was an insane journey. But my friend Kayla, she had experience with baking, and she went to college for hospitality.

[00:02:51] Faith Anderson: And she had some stuff under her belt and I knew, had some good ideas, and so I just followed her and what I could and then followed Jennifer to the owner of Great Harvest and learning whatever I could there as well. And so a lot of it was just learning as I went.

[00:03:05] Vicki Markussen: Okay, so I’m not telling this story very properly.

[00:03:08] Vicki Markussen: So you are friends with Kayla. You and Kayla dream of owning a cafe. And. Then some of the husbands, if you will, they saw that this was up for sale and the conversation started. So at that point, your husband was not in the, he wasn’t even your husband. And so you said, okay, Kayla and I will manage this.

[00:03:30] Vicki Markussen: So you, I’m just making sure I’m bringing, I’m following the thought process here. So three, so you spent three months with Jennifer to make sure you understood what happened in the operation side of it. Jennifer officially sells to the. Partnerships, we’ll call it because there are a lot of you in there, and you’re on your own.

[00:03:50] Vicki Markussen: So what does

[00:03:50] Faith Anderson: that look like? Uh, sleep was nice. Yeah,

[00:03:56] Vicki Markussen: the truth comes out.

[00:03:58] Faith Anderson: It was a lot. I honestly did not know what I was getting myself into, but I knew that it was something that we wanted to do, and it was on our hearts to reach out to the community and like we just felt like it was a calling from the Lord to really serve people and make a safe place for people to come to and just enjoy themselves and have a place where it’s peaceful and maybe in the middle of a chaotic day, go to Bluebird and just get a coffee and relax a little bit.

[00:04:25] Faith Anderson: Yeah. It’s a

[00:04:26] Vicki Markussen: very appropriate name for the colors inside. I love the blues inside. So Great Harvest was a franchise, I’m assuming, and so this is a launch into your own endeavor. Why Bluebird?

[00:04:42] Faith Anderson: Why the name? Yes. Why the name? Yeah. So I actually came up with the name Bluebird, and it was about a year before we even, this whole thing happened where the whole, I was actually living in California, so the whole idea just wasn’t even on anyone’s mind.

[00:04:58] Faith Anderson: And I had the idea that I someday would like to open up a café, and I knew that I wanted it to be a place that felt like home for people to feel safe. And so I was like, what’s the name? I’m not just going to call it home cafe. And so I just was praying about it and asking the Lord to show me something that would be like, that would feel right and welcoming.

[00:05:22] Faith Anderson: And it’s kind of a long story, but it also, it just came from some sermons that I heard. And there’s actually a poem that I wrote that’s sitting out at the cafe. And it’s basically about myself talking to a bluebird and being like, how are you living your life in freedom?

[00:05:39] Faith Anderson: And how do you live with no anxiety? Tell me this mystery of how you live in victory. And it’s the bluebird answering and saying, sometimes you just have to take a leap. And you have to choose courage, and from courage, learn wisdom. And there’s a phrase in there that says you have to fall before you soar.

[00:05:57] Faith Anderson: And there’s been many times that I’ve fallen. And sometimes I don’t feel like I’m soared yet, but who knows if I’ll get there or not. But hopefully soar. And I think that’s a big thing is going a little bunny trail, but I think that’s a big thing as well for our employees is that we want to give them a safe place as well is something I missed to mention is that we want it to be lighthearted for them and feel safe as well and have a good place to go to work to that they really enjoy.

[00:06:26] Faith Anderson: to work at. That is absolutely lovely.

[00:06:29] Vicki Markussen: Yes. So Bluebird. So I love that you have the poem that was sort of the inspiration in there. In Bluebird, you talk about the, you feel like you’ve fallen and then you always get back up. That is, and I’m going to tell you this too, you will, that will forever be your path as a business owner.

[00:06:50] Vicki Markussen: And if you’ve gotten everything smoothed out, something will come up that will shake everything up. And like, that’s just part of being a business owner. But the second part of this is. So it’s one thing to feel like, as some of it’s feeling right, like feeling like you have fallen, and then you get, and you get yourself back up, but you have business partners.

[00:07:10] Vicki Markussen: So what does that look like as you navigate, oops, I messed that up and now we’re adjusting and learning but what does that look like when you have business partners?

[00:07:20] Faith Anderson: Yeah, and I think we’ve all of us owners have made our own mistakes and I think it’s just realizing that we’re all going to make mistakes and that there should be grace in that for each other, and we’ve all had our own frustrations as well against each other and like trying to figure things out and having one idea, but there’s disagreements and coming to an agreement.

[00:07:41] Faith Anderson: And so I think like the biggest thing for us is that it’s just prayer. Like, we always try to go back to what is God doing with us, and how can we be unified the best way possible? And sometimes it’s in hard conversations. And sometimes it’s one person just doesn’t get their way because the rest of the people want to go a different direction.

[00:08:02] Faith Anderson: And yeah, so it’s just a lot of figuring things out and talking through things and a lot of meetings and. Yeah, and

[00:08:11] Vicki Markussen: it’s very special to share faith, too. I will say that. So it brings that grace piece in there. So you and Kayla are running the day to days. And how do you explain that what’s happening on the floor is no longer with you.

[00:08:28] Vicki Markussen: conceptual, right? So you have these owners that aren’t in the day to days and you are, is that a graceful conversation to say, okay, that sounds amazing, but implementing it looks like this. Do you have those type of conversations?

[00:08:42] Faith Anderson: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yep. We’re actually Yeah, going through some stuff now where we’re trying to figure out like, how can we see each other’s viewpoint and small business like you, money is a big deal.

[00:08:56] Faith Anderson: And you’re trying to figure out how can we save money. And then so people that see the numbers It’s easy to be like, we need to do this, but then it’s us that are on the ground, it’s, but we can’t, or we’re gonna burn out, and yeah, it’s trying to find that middle, and understand each other’s viewpoints, and understand yeah, we do need to save money.

[00:09:15] Faith Anderson: Are there other ways we could do that, or ways that we could, I don’t know, just make more or something, and So yeah, it’s, yeah, there’s always that misunderstanding sometimes. And, so yeah, that’s again where the grace comes in to just take the time to understand each other. And talk it through.

[00:09:33] Faith Anderson: Yeah.

[00:09:34] Vicki Markussen: So we dove very quickly into just business talk, but let’s talk about Bluebird as a company, as a cafe that people want to walk into. So you still have, I would say similar products as Great Harvest, but for someone who hasn’t walked in, how would, how do you describe Bluebird bakery and cafe?

[00:09:54] Faith Anderson: Yeah. So we, we do coffee drinks, specialty coffee drinks and then there’s baked goods and breads that we have that we can sell to people and sandwiches. And we’d say we’re a breakfast, brunch, lunch place that you can come in and enjoy. And we have great sandwiches that we make on our fresh bread that we make every day.

[00:10:13] Faith Anderson: And then we, you can get it with a great… cup of coffee and that we get from Bella Goose. That’s, they’re from the Dells and it’s awesome. We love their coffee, and we get great compliments about their coffee. And yeah, and our sweets are made every day as well. And we love our pastries. Like we try to go more for quality over quantity.

[00:10:34] Faith Anderson: And so we have like cinnamon rolls. scones, muffins cookies, and then some bars every once in a while.

[00:10:41] Vicki Markussen: And your bread is amazing. It’s basically your entire back wall. Right. So how many types of breads do you make on a daily basis?

[00:10:50] Faith Anderson: Yeah, so we have four types of, wait, there’s four, seven, seven breads that we probably make every day.

[00:10:59] Faith Anderson: And that’s like our white, grain three cheese, wheat, and then we have some fun ones, like a chipotle cheese, a parmesan chipotle, and a parmesan pesto those we make every day, and then every, like about once or twice a week, we’ll make a challah bread, which is like a Jewish bread, kind of like a white bread, but a little sweeter we make sourdoughs, and then, oh, I can’t believe I forgot this, the cinnamon roll bread.

[00:11:26] Faith Anderson: Yes. Yes. That’s our most popular one for sure. Love to make

[00:11:29] Vicki Markussen: French bread or French toast out of that. So

[00:11:31] Faith Anderson: yes. We make that every day too. So that’s our best bread.

[00:11:34] Vicki Markussen: Yes. I was waiting for you to say that. I’m like, I know you make, yeah. And so you have a very perishable product. So how do you manage what you make when you make it?

[00:11:47] Vicki Markussen: And then I’m guessing like certain holidays, there’s a there’s an uptick or what does that look like

[00:11:52] Faith Anderson: to manage? Right. And that’s something we’re always still trying to figure out because it’s always different. And We can be pretty consistent during the week of like, it’s slower on Mondays, it picks up on Fridays, and but you just honestly never know when someone’s going to come in and be like, can I have five loaves of white bread?

[00:12:09] Faith Anderson: And so we keep track of numbers and every night we look, we put in inventory and what we can, what we have and then, yeah, during the holidays, We are still trying to figure out the numbers with that just because we have only had, we’ve only gone through one holiday season. And hopefully this year we can advertise a little quick sooner than we did last year because we were still trying to figure it out.

[00:12:33] Faith Anderson: Yeah, so

[00:12:33] Vicki Markussen: pre-orders I’m sure are very helpful for you. Yes. Yeah. It would be interesting if you don’t have it. I know you have a punch card, but even just like a bread of the week club, right? So everybody can come in and get a bread of the, a loaf of bread each week, and then you’ve got a pre-sold, you have some idea of numbers and so anyway so yeah.

[00:12:54] Vicki Markussen: So you have bread at the end of the day. What happens to that bread?

[00:12:58] Faith Anderson: It depends on how old it is. We normally keep our bread about two days on the shelf, and then by the third day it goes onto our discounted cart. And then when it, if that doesn’t sell, then we donate it to a wafer. Very nice.

[00:13:14] Vicki Markussen: Everything gets used, which is great. Yeah, for sure. So we should mention that you purchased, you being the group, purchased this blue bird 18 months ago. So when you were envisioning the name, it was two and a half years ago that was taking place. That’s probably just coming. Is that in the middle of the pandemic?

[00:13:35] Vicki Markussen: Just coming out of the

[00:13:35] Faith Anderson: pandemic? Let’s see. I think it was 2020, sorry, 2021. Okay. So that was like March of 2021, I believe. So about a

[00:13:44] Vicki Markussen: year in. Yeah. And were you still in California? What’s, what sparked you moving from California? Was it the

[00:13:51] Faith Anderson: purchase? No, we, there was no idea of Bluebird when I decided to come back to lacrosse.

[00:13:59] Faith Anderson: Yeah, that’s my own personal story where I was actually gonna. Stay in California and I came home for about a month because my sister came home and I just had this thing in my heart that was like, you need to come back to lacrosse and I knew it was the Lord telling me that, and I was like, I really fought against it because I really wanted to stay in the warm weather in California.

[00:14:23] Faith Anderson: And so yeah, long story short, I ended up obeying and deciding to come back to lacrosse and I really had nothing when I first came home. I left my car in California, and I left a lot of stuff in California because I only could pack in a luggage bag, you know, an airplane. And so I just came with a little bit, and I lived with my parents, and…

[00:14:45] Faith Anderson: I didn’t have a job lined up and so I just sat there for three months waiting for something and then Me, my friend Kayla and I actually, Bluebird was going to be a coffee cart. We, that was our first plan and so we actually started building a coffee cart to like maybe do weddings and stuff like that and That kind of fell through, and then about two months after that fell through, that’s when we got the call from Joe that was like, Do you want to take the great harvest and make it bluebird?

[00:15:15] Faith Anderson: That

[00:15:15] Vicki Markussen: is a true leap of faith.

[00:15:18] Faith Anderson: Thanks, yeah. Yeah, it was pretty crazy.

[00:15:20] Vicki Markussen: Yes, and then you started down one path, and then you came to your current path, which is amazing. And then… Somewhere along the way, you decided we want a second location. Yep. How did that conversation, who had that idea?

[00:15:35] Faith Anderson: Yeah. So that was Joan Cody again.

[00:15:37] Faith Anderson: They’re the one, they’re very ambitious ones, which is good. We need that. And so yeah, I think we were at a point with Bluebird where I don’t know, they had the idea of just thinking that it would bring us a little more profit in, and cause we were a bit in the red at Bluebird and. We found they had found the Associated Bank, and they knew the guys that owned the place, and they had worked with them before, so they really trusted them, and they gave us a really good deal for the place, and it all just fell into place, and we had been, like, praying about it, and we all felt peace about it, and we just went for it, and it happened pretty

[00:16:12] Vicki Markussen: quick.

[00:16:13] Vicki Markussen: You’re in the… Is it Center 90? yep, and you’re at the north end of that in the old Associated Bank drive thru. Yes. And so you’re bringing, is it just coffee based? Do you have the sandwiches? What does the menu there look like? Yep, we

[00:16:29] Faith Anderson: have our coffees, we have our sandwiches there, and then we also try to deliver some cookies and scones and muffins there as much as we can.

[00:16:38] Faith Anderson: We always try to sell the top-selling things that we have at the bakery.

[00:16:42] Vicki Markussen: Nice. And so the nice thing is you’re not duplicating the baking and all of your assets, if you will, that are at Bluebird here in La Crosse, which, by the way, is just what is it just north of Festival Foods on Copeland. And yeah so you’re not having to duplicate the baking facility.

[00:17:02] Vicki Markussen: So you’re able really to just produce more when you are baking and then yeah. Send it up to on Alaska really early in the morning. Yep.

[00:17:09] Faith Anderson: Yep,

[00:17:10] Vicki Markussen: exactly. And so what does it look like to staff two places?

[00:17:14] Faith Anderson: It’s been good so far. We actually I had a manager there that was taking care of it all. So I’d actually didn’t really have to think about it much.

[00:17:24] Faith Anderson: But unfortunately, she had to go. And not that we didn’t let her go. Yeah, she was awesome. But yeah, she just had to go do some other things, and so now I’m in a sense, gonna be managing both of them, but, so that’s something we’re actually in the middle of trying to figure out what that can look like and just so I don’t burn myself out and going back and forth.

[00:17:44] Vicki Markussen: So Kayla’s the one doing all of the baking. Is that my understanding?

[00:17:48] Faith Anderson: Yeah, she does all the breads. And then she’s like the manager of it all. And then we have one other girl that bakes our sweets. But yeah, so they work together to figure out different recipes and… stuff like that. And I’m

[00:18:00] Vicki Markussen: guessing that is a very early

[00:18:02] Faith Anderson: morning.

[00:18:03] Faith Anderson: Yes. Yeah. I think she normally comes in about 4 or 4 30 to start baking everything. So it’s not too bad when it’s all the time. I think it’s tiring for sure.

[00:18:13] Vicki Markussen: Especially too. Cause when is your rush? Is your rush lunchtime or is

[00:18:18] Faith Anderson: it the morning? Yeah. Normally in the morning we’ll get. We can get rushes and then about lunchtime brunch.

[00:18:24] Faith Anderson: Lunch is our rush time for sure.

[00:18:26] Vicki Markussen: There’s lots of cafes out there. What do you think makes Bluebird special?

[00:18:32] Faith Anderson: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think one of the biggest compliments we get from people is our atmosphere. And that they just, they feel that it’s peaceful. And so I think that’s something that makes us different.

[00:18:45] Faith Anderson: And then, like physically I think it’s also, or like materially maybe it’s also that we sell breads and have those fresh sandwiches and that a lot of stuff that we give to our customers is fresh. And not just hasn’t been sitting there for too long, and customer service.

[00:19:04] Faith Anderson: We have the best employees. They’re always so happy and they are genuinely happy to serve people and just have great attitudes. And I’m just super grateful. I was even telling them this morning because we had a crazy day on Saturday and I was like, I’m so grateful for you guys because they just were all so super kind about it.

[00:19:23] Faith Anderson: And just for even though it was so crazy,

[00:19:26] Vicki Markussen: there’s something to be said about working for somebody who is an owner, even if you’re one of the co owners, it’s just a tighter connection, if you will. But you talked about earlier on, you talked about wanting to make this a peaceful place, a better place for your employees.

[00:19:42] Vicki Markussen: What does that look

[00:19:43] Faith Anderson: like for you? Yeah, I think I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and just be kind to them and give them grace where I know, like in other places, it’s just rough, and I try to keep things lighthearted and if they mess up, I don’t. I try not to get mad or frustrated right away, and just try to understand like, Oh, I get that.

[00:20:05] Faith Anderson: I’ve done that before. Like, if you spill some milk or whatever, it’s not a big deal. Just get them up, and yeah, and I think just… Getting to know them and, as we’re making food, just talking to them. How was your day? How was your weekend? And I think that’s just something we’ve cultivated as a staff that we’re always asking each other, how are you doing?

[00:20:30] Faith Anderson: How, what did you do this weekend? And it’s just really nice and fun. And I really look forward to going to work and seeing everybody and just laughing with them. Yeah, you’re making

[00:20:39] Vicki Markussen: connections, which is awesome. So my common closer question is, what makes you passionate about

[00:20:47] Faith Anderson: what you do? Oh, that’s a good question.

[00:20:51] Faith Anderson: I think the people, just the employees, I love, like I said, I love being around them and I think also serving the people, seeing our regulars. And serving them and just seeing them smile and even telling us about their day and how they’re doing.

[00:21:06] Faith Anderson: Yeah, I think that really makes it for me, and it helps me to enjoy it all.

[00:21:13] Vicki Markussen: Faith Anderson Bluebird Bakery and Cafe. You’ve been listening to Biz News Greater La Crosse. We’ll catch you next week.



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