Keeping Door County Caffeinated (Almost) 365 Days a Year
I don’t think I’m alone when I say that one thing I’ve missed the most during the past two years has been the local coffeehouse scene. Whether I’m there to work, catch up with a friend or simply enjoy a few moments of one-on-one time with a cup of hot joe, the local, independent coffeehouse – of which Door County is fortunate to have many – is undoubtedly one of life’s best simple joys. It keeps communities connected and caffeinated
Where to go: Central Northern Door
Where to eat: Blue Horse Beach Cafe, 4113 Main St. in Fish Creek
A staple among locals and a welcome find among visitors, Blue Horse Beach Cafe, owned by Carina Helm and Eric Rasmussen, sits on Main Street in Fish Creek. It embodies a distinctive vibe that’s equal parts chill coffeehouse and bustling cafe – all depending on what time of day you visit and which atmosphere you’re craving – and it’s accessible year-round.
“It’s funny how we advertise that we’re open 7 to 5 every day, and yet I’ll hear the staff up front answering phone calls all day long: ‘We’re open 7 to 5; we’re open 7 to 5,’” Rasmussen said.
If you know, you know.
And for those who stumble upon the cafe, now in its fourth location in Fish Creek, to know Blue Horse is to immediately become a fan – not only of its dependability, but of its always-fresh menu, too.
In addition to all the coffee and handcrafted specialty coffee drinks one would expect of a coffeehouse, Blue Horse also features a tempting menu of bakery items baked in house.
“When it comes to bakery items in restaurants in general, they’re either baked that day, or they’re baked somewhere else ahead of time and brought in,” said Rasmussen, who bakes the pastry, muffins and cinnamon rolls fresh every morning. “It’s been our thing from the beginning that everything is fresh.”
That motto carries over to the all-day breakfast menu and diverse lunch options, too.
“We don’t have big jugs of mayonnaise in the back,” Rasmussen said. “We make our own mayonnaise. We make our own sauces.”
Not sure what to order? Just ask. The staff behind the counter will be happy to point you in the right direction, either by suggesting their current favorites or steering you toward the cafe’s more popular menu items. (Hint: The jalapeño egg sandwich – featuring grilled ciabatta spread with cream cheese, sweet pickled jalapeños, grilled ham, egg and melted cheese – or the curry chicken salad, either in a sandwich or atop a green salad, are tried-and-true favorites.) And because the majority of the staff members have been with Blue Horse for several years, they won’t steer you wrong.
This is one place that’s still taking online orders, which is convenient on busy weekends or when you just want to grab a quick lunch to go. And speaking of to-go, Blue Horse’s private-label whole-bean and ground-coffee selection is also available to purchase by the pound in the cafe and online.
Rasmussen admitted that it’s no small feat to keep a business buzzing year-round, but in his mind, there is no other way to run it. Consistency is key.
“It’s very hard to do it any other way,” he said. “It not only gets to be expensive to be open a few days and then closed some, but people don’t remember when [you are open]. So you get someone who comes in, and they like it, and then they return another day, only to find out you’re closed. It doesn’t work.”
That commitment to consistency also extends to the Blue Horse staff. Although there are some seasonal faces, the cafe also has several staff members who work year-round. And although hours might be fewer in the winter months, it evens out over the course of the year, which leads to the staff making more and having more consistent hours than most comparable jobs in the industry.
“It took a few years to gather the staff we have, but now they’re family,” Rasmussen said.
And chances are – when Helm greets you at the counter, or Rasmussen serves up your order with a lighthearted, “I made something delicious for you” or “This one is all about you!” – you’ll feel like family, too.