Phil Schreiber might be used to serving hamburgers, chicken wings and deep-fried onion rings, but he is now immersed in learning about jambalaya and Cajun quiche.
The longtime local restaurateur has stepped away from daily operations at Between the Buns and purchased a downtown South Bend coffee shop.
He and wife Julie are learning the ropes at the New Orleans-themed Chicory Cafe, 105 E. Jefferson Blvd., at Jefferson Centre.
The Granger couple recently bought the cafe from Heather Yarbrough, who opened the business in 2005. Schreiber remains a co-owner of the Buns.
"I've always enjoyed a good cup of coffee -- and drank the occasional latte or mocha, but I didn't know the breadth of everything involved in the coffee business. There's an overwhelming amount of information," he says, "but now I know the difference between breakfast blend and French roast."
Yarbrough had hoped to find a buyer who would retain her shop's Southern flair. Although she is sad to leave the cafe and her loyal customers, she's thrilled that the Schreibers want to build on her concept.
"It's absolutely bittersweet for me," Yarbrough says about selling the cafe to pursue a master's degree in history. "But I am proud to say I started the cafe right before the economy took a turn for the worse and survived a pretty tough recession."
Over time, the Schreibers plan to build on the menu and hours that Yarbrough established at the Chicory.
They plan to submit an application next week for a riverfront liquor license. If approved, the couple hope to expand the hours and serve wine, craft beers and liquor by Christmas.
"It's not going to turn into a bar," Schreiber reassures area diners. "Heather has done such a marvelous job with coffee that we have no intention of messing it up."
The couple hope to add more vegetarian menu items as well as homemade soups, veggie wraps, Cajun meatloaf, Cajun quiche and crawfish macaroni and cheese. Schreiber also plans to offer more organics and replace small gift items in the store with locally produced jams, salsas and sauces.
He has such a good feeling about this business, in fact, Schreiber cannot help but consider the possibilities of adding another location or two over time.
"I see this working in other places -- it could be a perfect concept next to a college, so maybe you'll see us in Muncie or Lafayette, or even in downtown Mishawaka," Schreiber says. "I see a lot of opportunities with this."
Tailgating not just a party, ND study finds
If you see John Sherry at a Notre Dame tailgate or two Saturday, remember that it's only for the sake of research.
Sherry, a Notre Dame marketing professor and cultural anthropologist, has spent the past two years leading a first-of-its-kind study about American culture and tailgating.
"We've been invited to hundreds of tailgates as we move through the fields and lots," he says, noting how the research has been based on Notre Dame's campus. "It's a wonderful venue to study people, and people are happy to share their enthusiasm."
His research reveals that tailgating builds community, nurtures tradition, and contributes to a university's brand. Assistant marketing professor Tonya Bradford and a group of student research assistants have helped out with the research.
We'll be discussing the study and its results in more detail in a future column.
"It's one of those things where an interesting event is happening right under your own nose, but you're so close you don't really pay attention to it," Sherry says. "But after years of dodging through the parking lot to get to my seat in the stadium, it seemed like a fascinating phenomenon."
Have you heard?
Fabulous Lola's, a new women's apparel shop, is scheduled to open Saturday at 111 S. Main St., Mishawaka. Owner Noelle Warren is offering both new and gently used fashions for full-figured women. Hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, closed Sunday and Monday. ... Join our next live chat at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Heidi Prescott's column runs in the South Bend Tribune on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. When she's not shopping, contact her at email@example.com or 574-235-6070. You can also talk retail at Facebook.com/thebasket and at Twitter.com/marketbasket.