BURLINGTON — Valerie Kowalski has been the owner of Cafe B since 2021, but the journey to get to Burlington was a long time coming. Now, she’s on a mission to rebrand herself as Infinity Coffee & Beyond.
Her establishment is now located at 133 E. Chestnut St., Suite B, which is in The Loop, in the heart of downtown Burlington.
Kowalski battles COVID-19’s impact on business
While born and raised in the Waterford area, it wasn’t until Kowalski was left without a job due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that she returned to Southeastern Wisconsin.
In 2019, Kowalski and her husband, at the time, were the owners of Blue Owl Catering, also known as Blue Cakes & Marketplace, which operated out of Sauk City, Wis. She had embarked on the path to owning her own business after leaving a steady job as a chef for Epic Systems, after six years.
“After a certain point in time, it just wasn’t enough. It didn’t pay for the catering-sized bills and we had to let it go. And along with that, unfortunately, we lost our house, as well,” explains Valerie.
Kowalski’s dream for her career was to use her education in culinary arts and vast skill set therein, and despite losing one business, she is still on a path to realize that goal.
Finding Cafe B
When she and her then-husband discovered a coffee and bakery business, currently known as Café B, for sale, the couple took the leap of faith to move and start over, yet again.
At the time, Cafe B was located at 256 E. Chestnut St.
They had their footing and started to root themselves in Burlington’s historic district.
Unfortunately, the hurdles for Valerie didn’t stop. Once the business was purchased and up and running, she was met with a failed marriage and found herself as the sole operator of the establishment.
“I was working sometimes 24-hour days. I’d work all night just to open and make a go at it. During that time, I also found myself homeless. I couldn’t afford to live out here so I actually lived in the Cafe B building,” explains Kowalski.
Being alone in the business left her with all of the responsibility and a full plate to juggle.
“There’s no predicting that sort of thing. It can literally happen to anyone,” explains the cafe owner about homelessness.
Moving Cafe B to The Loop
While some may disagree, luck was on Kowalski’s side when a building in The Loop, where the cafe currently resides, was up for sale.
Valerie’s father, Rob, believes that timing was everything for his daughter to acquire this new space. He serves as one of Valerie’s biggest supporters, helping wherever possible. Surrounding businesses have even extended support and welcomed the owner with open arms.
Valerie inquired about the space and leased it on the spot. She moved Cafe B to the new location at 133 E. Chestnut St.
“We closed the old cafe in April, and by May we were open,” says the owner.
Making the company Valerie’s own
Valerie is now making the move to transform the cafe into her own, including rebranding it as Infinity Coffee & Beyond in The Loop.
“It’s a fresh start,” says Valerie. “It’s kind of a Genesis, like a new beginning. I’ve established my roots here. I’m becoming part of the community and I hope to serve this community for a long time.”
While there are hurdles like COVID-19’s impact on the economy, rising food costs and employee shortages, Kowalski isn’t giving up on her dreams, in fact, she’s expanding them.
“I’m excited about the rebrand. There’s still a lot of people who have never heard of Cafe B, and now it’s gonna be like, ‘No, we’re this new thing. You can’t miss us. We’re here,'” explains Valerie. “There’s so much working against me right now and somehow I’m still standing. There really are so many reasons to want to hang it up, to give up, to be done, and I’m still here. I’m still doing it. I’m doing it for the community. I’m doing it for me. I’m doing it for my staff.”
Settling in as Infinity Coffee & Beyond
“I’m just grateful for my ability to keep rolling with the punches. I mean, some days the punches really land hard, and you just get up and dust yourself off,” says Valerie.
The new name reflects an inside joke that Valerie had with her customers at the old building.
“I drink endless amounts of coffee and the coffee shop provides me with endless amounts of coffee so we might as well just be an Infinity Coffee,” explains Kowalski.
The ‘Beyond’ in Infinity Coffee & Beyond will allow the chef to expand the menu to be whatever she wants it to be.
With the rebrand, the cafe will begin serving lunch. They will remain offering the same cafe sweets, pastries, baked items, and locally brewed Burlington Coffee Company coffee, but will continue to grow.
“There’s not a lot of places to get a healthy lunch around (here). We’re just kind of hoping we can be that (place) in Burlington. You can get a burger anywhere. You get fried food in three or four different places. I want a wrap. I want a salad. I want to be that change that I wish to see,” says the owner.
Having such a variety really reflects the new name of Infinity Coffee & Beyond.
Valerie believes by expanding she will be able to incorporate her skills as a chef into more of the business. Her background has sustained her and going forward she’s pursuing the path of culinary arts.
“This is a way that I can integrate both of them. I can honor the road that got me here and continue to expand with what I know and love,” says Valerie.
Infinity Coffee & Beyond is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and also offers various catering options.
Contact Valerie Kowalski at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the business’ Facebook page to learn more.
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