There are a lot of “hip” coffee shops in the world these days—but in Stockbridge, Wis.?
By no means is that meant to denigrate the friendly little village along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County, but Mud Creek Coffee continues to be a surprise find for travelers and first-time visitors. For the many regular customers who discovered Mud Creek Coffee sometime over the past eight years that it has been open, it continues to be an oasis for great coffee and a surprising number of other offerings.
Owner Julie Parsons said just the other day a woman from Milwaukee was passing through Stockbridge and stopped in, commenting that she never would have dreamed of finding a place like Mud Creek in a little village.
Parsons has long labeled Mud Creek Coffee as being “Hip Rural,” meaning it is a cool little coffee shop in a rural area. In reality, Mud Creek Coffee would be hip if it were picked up and dropped in downtown Chicago.
A quick cup and a lot more
It is more than a coffee shop. Mud Creek has become known as a breakfast and lunch café. It even has a Mexican Night, something totally unexpected for a coffee shop. And for those people who stop in for coffee, Parsons and her seven employees have gone so far as to offer milk alternatives—almond, coconut and soy—for their lattes and espresso drinks. Mud Creek serves Colectivo Coffee (formerly Alterra).
Good food and good coffee have helped Mud Creek Coffee continue to grow. Each day the staff strives to give customers a relaxing, homey atmosphere while adding exciting new food and drink offerings to old favorites. With 36 seats and a drive-through, Mud Creek Coffee is a place to sit a while to rest or chat, or a place to grab a quick cup of coffee and a bite to eat before continuing a busy day.
“We capture a lot of business passing by,” Parsons said. “If they are going somewhere and pass by, they will stop, but we are also becoming more and more of a destination shop. People not only recognize Stockbridge as the sturgeon capital of the world, but also the place with that cool little coffee shop.”
Billboards on STH 55 and STH 32/57 have helped bring awareness to the coffee shop as well. “Almost daily someone will say they saw our billboard,” Parsons said.
Parsons and her staff pride themselves on serving fresh food including real cheese, and Mud Creek customers notice the difference in taste. “People are always telling us the food tastes fresh,” she said. “We use only premium ingredients. We have never gone to cheaper ingredients.”
After a particularly busy day for the coffee shop recently, a customer took the extra effort to tell Parsons how much he enjoyed the food. “A gentleman at the end of his meal told me everything tastes so good and that he could taste the freshness,” Parsons said. “We use fresh ingredients and the customers notice.”
Mud Creek employees chop the salads and extra ingredients for each meal, something Parsons said makes all the difference in providing better taste.
Pride in ingredients is not the only place Parsons strives to go the extra mile for her customers as keeping the shop in top shape is important to her and her staff. She said, “We take care of it. Customers tell us this is an immaculate place. That’s what makes me tick and keeps me going. I have that people pleasing mentality.”
Last year was Mud Creek Coffee’s best yet, but Parsons is not one to rest on past success. In May the coffee shop will be unveiling a new menu. “This is pretty cool for us,” Parsons said.
The new menu will offer customers old favorites along with gluten friendly items, healthy choices, and new sandwiches, wraps and salads sure to become favorites.
“I truly believe people are going the more holistic route,” Parsons said, adding that her daughter Taylor has a great interest in whole, raw and organic foods.
Proud to work in the business with her daughter, Parsons pointed out the interesting family connection in that Taylor is the second generation behind Julie in the coffee shop business, while son Trevor is the third generation working with Julie’s husband Bill at Parsons Brothers Construction. “We tell the kids to do as we have done—put your heart and soul into it and give it all you’ve got.”
A special favorite of Mud Creek customers is the baked oatmeal. Parsons laughed as she said people ask for the recipe. “I tell them they can buy the whole coffee shop with it.”
The new menu is not the only change for Mud Creek this year. They shortened their hours in January. With most of the coffee shop’s business done before 3 p. m., Parsons said she made the business decision to be open 6:30 a. m. to 3 p. m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Thursdays will continue to be the popular Mexican Night with Mud Creek offering Mexican food and drinks along with the regular menu and staying open until 8 p. m. Hours on Saturdays and Sundays are 7 a. m. to 3 p. m.
With employees experimenting to create new recipes for the menu, Parsons said they try to use what they have and be creative in new offerings. New drinks are offered each season with Parsons noting that Mud Creek can always make the customers their old favorites as well.
Still offering top sellers such as chipotle chicken, gourmet turkey and pesto mozz paninis and the popular wraps spiced pecan chicken and chicken salad, Parsons said salads are also a huge draw to the coffee shop. “People love salads and we offer huge salads,” she said. “New and exciting on the new menu will be the chickpea and feta salad. We will be offering a spring mix along with our traditional romaine and baby spinach. All of our salads are presented beautifully.”
In addition to all the above, the newly designed menu also features the shop’s café sandwiches, soups, all-day breakfast offerings and a kids menu. Mud Creek’s drink menu complements the specialty drinks by featuring the brew of the day, frappe freeze, frozen crème, coffee alternatives, chai and teas and the traditional sodas and beer.
A special event held quarterly is wine tasting which includes seven wines along with numerous courses of food.
Offering more than just coffee and food, Mud Creek is a great place to pick up gifts of chocolate, local honey, wines and accessories, Colectivo Coffee and mugs, and Good Earth soaps and lotions.