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Unique legacy to live on at Allouez Cafe

Published: Oct. 30, 2020 at 2:02 PM CDT
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ALLOUEZ, Wis. (WBAY) - Friday marked the end of an era at the Allouez Cafe.

But it also means the continuation of a unique legacy there, one that’s truly rare in the food and restaurant industry.

From the time he first opened the Allouez Cafe in March, 1979, Dave Schoonover knew this day would come, and he wasn’t necessarily looking forward to it.

“No, I dreaded it. It’s been a pleasure coming to work every day here. I’m blessed with the greatest staff in the world and the most wonderful customers,” says Schoonover.

Joining Dave in retiring Friday was waitress Jan Ambrosius, who’s served meals at the cafe for more than 40 years.

“Walked in loving my job and I’m going to leave loving my job. I have a great boss, I have a lot of great co-workers I’ve worked with over the years, I have wonderful customers, they’ve been really good to me, loyal, supportive, dedicated, coming in here every day, regulars,” says Ambrosius.

With more than 80 years of experience walking out the door you might think the Allouez Cafe would be in trouble, but that is far from the case.

“You take care of your employees and your employees take care of you. We have employees that have been here 20, 30, 40 years and they’re going to continue,” says Lynn Schoonover, who will take over running the cafe from her father.

One of them is waitress Mary Ann Van Boxel, in her 38th year at the cafe.

“I grew up a mile-and-a-half away, so this is like family here because neighbors, classmates and I don’t know, we just click,” says Van Boxel.

“It just goes to show how much each person here is really appreciated,” adds Lynn Schoonover.

Having wait staff, cooks and dishwashers with decades of experience is rare in the restaurant industry, and Dave Schoonover knows he’s been blessed.

“It’s always been in great hands, I’ve never had a problem, I’ve worried about anything here, it’s always taken care of itself,” recalls Schoonover.

Which leads to this one piece of advice he’s learned over the years.

“Make friends with your customers and your employees, treat them well, the key to the whole situation is treat everybody as if they are your family,” says Schoonover, before blowing out candles on a retirement cake.

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