Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week’s featured business is Vino Latte, which opened in 2003 when Loreen Glaman purchased Café le Grand on the corner of Grand Avenue and Thomas Street in Wausau. Since that time, the business was renamed, relocated and eventually expanded to a second location in Weston, which was recently rebranded as Fixations. Both locations feature delicious coffee, unique and freshly-prepared menu items, a cozy atmosphere and hundreds of varieties of wine. Though Sarah manages Vino Latte in Wausau and Blair manages Fixations in Weston, Loreen Glaman is the glue that holds it all together with her quick smile, positive attitude and business savvy. Here’s what she had to say about the history and future of her business.
Q: When was your business established, and what prompted you to start?
A: I purchased the existing coffee shop, Café Le Grand, in November 2003 as a way to become part of the community and pour my energy into – building something to support the community, employees and my entrepreneurial spirit. In 2011 I changed the name from Café le Grand to Vino Latte, and in 2014 we purchased the “little red barn” on Schofield Ave in Weston and opened Vino Latte – Weston, now changed to Fixations. In 2017 we purchased a building on the west side of Wausau and relocated the original Vino Latte location to this building – to bring more diversity to more of Central Wisconsin.
Q: How did you choose the name of your business? What are you trying to convey?
A: When I purchased the business, it was called Café le Grand – because it was located on Grand Avenue, at the intersection of Thomas Street, across from the Wausau Fire and Police Departments. As the business grew, and I envisioned moving from the existing building (due to future road construction/expansion), the name was changed to Vino Latte – to represent the passion for our two primary products: Wine and Coffee (referring to the espresso based drink of a latte). In 2021 we changed the name of the Weston location to FIXATIONS so as reflect our continued growth and introduction of additional products – those related to our fixations with wine, coffee, food and more. This was also done to differentiate between the stores – and with a change of lunch/food menu, Fixations can bring a different taste to the area.
Q: Tell us about your business. What products or services do you offer?
A: Our tag line is “Gourmet Coffee Shop, Eatery and Wine Boutique” – however, we are so much more. We are a café serving breakfast, lunch, and light fare dinner options; many homemade bakery items and soups made from scratch. We have a highly curated selection of fine wines and a growing collection of unique spirits. We serve wine by the glass and bottle, offer wine tastings and wine classes, and have Wine Clubs at both locations. We developed artisan pizzas available during certain hours for in-store dining, and also available for in-home enjoyment as frozen take-and-bakes.
Q: What makes your business unique?
A: Our business was founded on a mission of providing superb products with exceptional customer service within unique and inviting surroundings while supporting our community. We stand by that and so much more. Vino Latte/Fixations is a 100% woman owned, local business, with a vision toward healthy (mostly!) food, hand selected wine, fresh roasted and expertly prepared coffee drinks, and being connected to the community in which we live & operate the business. The level of detail and commitment to these things is of utmost importance. Supporting our community is important – and we have sponsored many events through the years – with donations, coordination, time and participation.
Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
A: I am most proud of building a respected local business that has employed hundreds of people over the years and plays a positive role in the lives of fellow residents on a daily basis. Being part of the community and having customers feel welcome, comfortable and satisfied with our food, coffee, products and services is extraordinarily satisfying.
Q: How have you changed and evolved over time?
A: We have changed significantly since taking over Café le Grand! The prior owners (2003 and earlier) focused on one featured lunch item per day and carried a few Wisconsin wines. We now carry nearly 500 different wines at each location, have a full lunch menu, make all of our soups from scratch, our bakery items are nearly all homemade, our wine clubs have over 200 members, and we have become known in the wine community by instructing classes, hosting tastings (including virtual tastings during COVID!), having winemakers as guests and being a generous partner in many organizations. Having been in business for over 17 years, many things have changed – within our business and within the community. We have expanded offerings, changed locations and added aspects to our business. Within the community, there are several more coffee shops than when we started, and more options for dining and drinking out.
Q: What challenges have you had to overcome? Basically, if you had it to do all over again, would you do anything differently?
A: Listing the challenges we have overcome would take up too much space! From operating the business while working full time jobs, to learning ALL aspects of the business, applying for business loans and putting our personal financial situation at risk, struggling to stay open during financial downturns and pandemics, trying to stand out in Central Wisconsin, and enduring all foreseen and unforeseen obstacles (equipment issues, employee issues, inspections, road construction, theft, supply chain issues, supplier issues, lawsuits, customer complaints, misplaced negative reviews, and more). As to whether we would do things differently – of course. If a person or an entity looks back at life and doesn’t recognize they could have done things better, there is a failure to think critically about actions and outcomes. We certainly didn’t do everything perfect, and there is always room for improvement – so of course there are things we may have done differently knowing what we know now.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
A: Moving forward we hope for continued and increased success in business and life – and moving toward our inevitable retirement and secession from the business, so as to enjoy life- before the afterlife! We will continue to work on improving the business, playing a role in the community, supporting our customers & employees, and enjoying our adventure.
Locations and Contact Information:
Vino Latte, 3309 Terrace Ct., Wausau WI 54401
Find Vino Latte on Facebook here.
Fixations by Vino Latte, 4204 Schofield Ave., Weston, WI 54476
Find Fixations by Vino Latte on Facebook here.