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Historic Baraboo building could become cafe

December 20, 2018
Karen Stanley presents the Baraboo Plan Commission with her proposal to create Bella Vita Cafe.

A Baraboo entrepreneur plans to open a cafe inside a historic downtown building.

On Tuesday the Plan Commission voted 7-0 to allow Karen Stanley to convert a two-story building at 138 First St. into a cafe. The property formerly housed a church, a probiotics company and, 20 years ago, the Sand County Cafe.

Stanley told commissioners Bella Vita Cafe would offer beverages such as coffee, tea, juice and smoothies; baked goods like muffins, scones and pastries; and entrees including wraps, quiche, soups and salads. She’s working to buy the building contingent on zoning approvals, with hopes of opening in April. The commission’s recommendation will go to the Common Council.

By the time Bella Vita opens, customers will be able to enjoy the property’s spacious patio facing Ash Street. The building was erected as a residence in 1881. “It’s such a beautiful space,” Stanley said.

She anticipates being open from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday at first, possibly expanding into the evening hours and opening on Sunday down the line.

“It would be fantastic to have it reopened,” said Commissioner Kate Fitzwilliams, who worked in the building when it was occupied by Florajen Probiotics.

The building lies two blocks down Ash Street from Baraboo’s downtown square. It offers space for four indoor dining areas seating up to 75 customers. Its menu will feature organic, local and gluten-free items. It’ll offer take-out as well as dine-in service.

“I would love to be able to offer this to people in Baraboo,” Stanley said.

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