Nestled in the heart of a tourist town is a amazing little vegan stop.
Wisconsin Dells, WI is known for many things, vegan eating is not one of them. So, when I stumbled upon this little gem when I first moved down there for work during college, I was amazed.
At the time they were merely vegetarian, but so was I, so all was right with the world.
In the crazy hustle and bustle of a town known for screaming children and caramel apple shops walking into The Cheeze Factory was like being transported to another world. They were equipped with a full espresso bar, an old school diner bar, and a menu that would blow anyone away.
I become a devoted fan and would bring (or drag) anyone who would come to visit me in to “share” a vegan chocolate cupcake. I have since moved from that tiny little waterpark town, but do not miss a chance to stop in for a meal.
So, it would come as no shock to you that when the hubby and I were going to be in town for a conference, I made sure this place was on our list of stops. I even reached out to the owner hoping she or someone might have a minute to chat with me.
I have always been curious about how this all got started. I also sing its praises any chance I get on social media and to friends visiting the area, so figured why not share with all my readers! #vegansrock
I was delighted when the owner and executive chef agreed to meet me. #fangirlmoment
I was so excited to be there my journalistic background went out the window and I forgot to record it. Oh well, I took plenty to notes!
Another thing to note, and this trip was no exception, was the outstanding wait staff. I worked in the area for many years and you can imagine how some locals feel about tourists, not here, we are all family.
That day was no different, I was happily greeted by the manager and seated. I was soon met by Sage, the owner and executive chef.
She began to tell me her story. About 30 years ago she was working as a chef is New York City. She was accomplished, had great success in her career, had a great job at a 5 star restaurant, but just felt like something was missing.
Call it fate, or whatever you believe, but shortly after that she stumbled upon the teachings of a Course in Miracles. Only a few weeks later she travelled to Wisconsin Dells where a group of students lived and practiced the teachings she had just discovered. She had found that piece that was missing.
She immediately decided to relocate to Wisconsin Dells and shortly after begin the restaurant with some of her fellow students.
The old building they bought had once been a cheese factory and a bowling alley, it was set right on the main drag of town. Never questioning whether there was a need for the food and lifestyle they wanted to bring, they opened as a vegetarian restaurant.
She stated her aim was never to be labeled as a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, but wanted to be known as serving delicious food for everyone, without harm to others. Wow, isn’t that powerful. She didn’t set out to preach her ways, but to show people how delicious the food can be and to share it will all who came.
One of her focuses has always been the feeling one receives the second they walk through the door. From the friendly staff I mentioned, to the soothing jazz music playing, to the big bright windows, you walk in and immediately feel at peace.
She mentioned one of her absolute favorite parts has been developing recipes and menus through the years, a true culinary artist for sure. And that love and passion shines through in every dish. She is constantly tweaking the menu and trying new dishes to better serve her guests.
Because they don’t label themselves as much as one would expect, they are sometimes found by unexpecting travellers. But it doesn’t phase them. They are here to serve delicious food and most people are pleasantly surprised.
Sage went on to express how much she loves when a hesitant family or husband is brought in by (usually) the wife. So many times she is met with a comment of how surprised they were by the fantastic meal. WIN for vegans 😉
Too often nowadays veganism, or any belief or lifestyle for that matter, are forced upon people and are therefore met with defense and hostility. We must find a way to simply share our beliefs with others to truly open their minds to the idea.
It was so amazing to meet a woman who lives out her passion, no matter what others think and truly just wants to share this lifestyle with the world. We must come together in love and show others the good of going meat free versus shaming them for their current stance on the matter.
Let us all be a little more like Sage and her staff. Changing the way vegans are perceived, one meal at a time.
If you are headed to Wisconsin Dells, or even if you not, make sure to check this place out. Their menu features everything from veggie burgers, vegan breakfast bowls, to my personal favorite the Asian Medley.
Oh, and no stop is complete without one of their decadent desserts. She was kind enough to send me home with a gluten free vegan chocolate chip cookie as well as the best damn cinnamon roll I have ever have!
Be sure to check out their website and order their vegan cookbook! No vegan kitchen should be without these amazing recipes!