It’s all in the family for Area 57 CoffeeCafe's 20th anniversary in Wanamingo
Wanamingo's Area 57 is truly a family business as it celebrates 20 years of welcoming customers into their family.
WANAMINGO — When husband and wife Ryan and Nicole Holmes left their daytime jobs in 2002 to open Area 57 CoffeeCafe, they had no prior experience in the restaurant industry. The Holmeses celebrated their 20th anniversary in January.
When they started their restaurant endeavor in 2003, all the Holmeses brought from former jobs was penchant for providing good service: Ryan in customer service and Nicole a nurse.
“We're always looking for a way to take care of people,” Nicole Holmes said. “It was absolutely daunting to start something new. We were looking for something we could do together and this opportunity presented itself.”
“We always loved coffee shops,” Ryan Holmes added. “We both have that entrepreneurial thing in our families already. Her parents owned a Napa (Auto Parts) store, and my dad owned Kenyan Auto Body.”
Their little cafe in Wanamingo has brought them 20 healthy years of business and an opportunity to bring their family together in more ways than ever. Family members from both sides of Ryan and Nicole's extended families have held one job or another at Area 57.
“It's truly a family business. We just put as many family members in the business that we can and I think that's huge, because we treat everybody that comes in here like family,” Nicole Holmes said. “We've got regular customers that we know more about them than their own family because we see them every day.”
Currently five children — Victoria, Sophia, Aliyandra, Kellen and Ava — out of the Holmes' brood of seven children work at Area 57 alongside Ryan’s brother, Aaron Holmes, Nicole’s mother, Karen Masters, and her grandmother, Cora Vizecky. The Holmes have employed people around the Wanamingo community outside their family as well, but treat them just the same as if they were a part of the family.
“We want everyone to feel like they're coming into our home and welcome them in and make them feel really comfortable being here,” Ryan Holmes said.
Turning Area 57 into a family-run business and treating customers as family has made the CoffeeCafe what it is today. The love for customers at the cafe has translated into many different forms of gratitude, whether if it is a return to the cafe each day or attributed influence of the cafe’s atmosphere as author Robert Ringham did with his 2015 book, "Good News from the Bullpen Cafe," which tells a fictional tale about a similar small town cafe.
When it comes to the food served at Area 57, Ryan and Nicole Holmes have always sourced everything from local produce and beef while in the growing season. January, of course, has its setbacks for local produce available, but this is the time of year that is the best for their baked goods.
"We're doing everything from scratch. Clean food like grandma would have made, you know? Our former pastor has a farm and we get all of our produce from him in the summer, specifically apples for our pies,” said Nicole Holmes.
The Holmeses have tried expanding in their 20 years in Wanamingo, spending a few years with a burger kitchen inside the Cenex before Casey’s Retail Company took ownership of the property. That hasn’t stopped the Holmes from considering expanding their small business into a second location, which they hope to complete before 2023 is over.
That second location can provide a business foothold the next 20 years of Area 57 and for the Holmes family.
“Our oldest is the same age that Bryan was when we started the restaurant," Nicole Holmes said. "So looking at our second generation, she wants to keep going in the restaurant industry for the family.”