Posted: July 12, 2021 Hearty Hoagies in the Heart of Eau Claire
Acoustic Café | 505 S. Barstow Street Eau Claire, WI 54701 | (715) 832-9090
www.theacoustic.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Acoustic Café’s from-scratch hoagie bread—a hearty, cracked wheat—was inspired by Johnnie Bread, an old world loaf baked at St. John’s University in St. Joseph, MN. “Our whole business model is kind of based around the hoagie,” shared Blake Heymans, the son of owner, Lois Sieve. After graduating from St. John’s University and its sister school, College of Saint Benedict, several of Heymans’ family members were inspired to open a comfy café, reminiscent of their college days.
When his family opened Acoustic Café (Acoustic) in 1993, Heymans was seven. “I was old enough to remember when they built out each location,” said Heymans, explaining that the high back booths in the Café were actually built by his Great Uncle Phil in Sleepy Eye, MN. Heymans family founded Acoustic Café to create a hybrid establishment: a coffee shop and quick-service restaurant. The intent was to offer a quality product at a decent price, while also creating a venue where people could listen to live music while carrying on a conversation. Today the Café serves fresh-made hot hoagies, pita sandwiches, soup, salad, gourmet coffee, and desserts.
Deciding to pause live music amid COVID-19, Heymans says it’s much harder to create the traditional Acoustic Café experience. Over the past fifteen years, Acoustic’s music manager, Blayne Powell, built relationships with local musicians, university professors, singer songwriters, and musicians passing through the area. “It’s been kind of tough to see that [music] community suffer,” shared Heymans. “When we can bring a group of customers together again—sitting safely in our space—that's going to be pretty powerful. There's probably going to be a lot of great music coming out of this whole thing.”
Although the Café can’t bring people together with live music right now, the team has found new ways to serve the community. “Right off the bat,” Heymans said, “We partnered with a local hospital as a drop location for handmade masks.” During that time, the Café was shut down to zero percent occupancy. “That gave us an opportunity to make some changes in the dining room,” explained Heymans. With socially-distanced booths, sneeze guards, and masks, Acoustic has become a safe place for students to work during the day. “It’s an alternative to just sitting in their dorm room or apartment,” shared Heymans.
To keep things running smoothly during the pandemic, Acoustic launched a new website listing ‘Today’s Soups’ and ‘Today’s Coffees,’ with online ordering coming soon. To keep customers safe, the Café provides outdoor dining during the summer, and currently offers curbside, takeout, dine-in, and catering options. “There were a lot of initial changes that we had to make,” shared Heymans, “And we're still obviously making them every day.”
With many professionals working from home, business catering orders have largely disappeared, but Acoustic is seeing more catering orders for healthcare facilities. Heymans said, “A lot of people ask, ‘How do we send food to the hospital—to nurses and doctors?” It’s not as simple as dropping off food at a facility; most hospitals run deliveries and catering through a foundation. If you want to purchase food from Acoustic Café to send to a local healthcare facility, Heymans said the Café can put you in touch with the foundations. “Our hoagies travel well,” explained Heymans. Acoustic offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, and everything is individually packaged.
With neighbors like Tangled Up in Hue, Blue Ox Running, and ArtBoxx Salon, Heymans said, “The more [business] we can generate downtown, the better off we all are.” Customers often shop at Tangled Up in Hue before grabbing lunch from Acoustic, or get their hair done at ArtBoxx after a quick bite to eat. Looking to the future, Heymans said, “As long as we can make it to the other side. I think we're all gonna be in a better spot.”
If you want to support Acoustic Café, buy a hoagie, latte, or purchase a gift card online! Heymans’ favorite menu item is the turkey hoagie. “Every time I feel like I'm getting sick of it,” Heymans said, “I always find myself craving something.”