It all started in 2009 when Barb Anderson saw an ad in her local paper for a goat
for sale in northern Wisconsin. Following an accident that left her with a couple
of broken vertebrae and a broken wrist, Barb, a self-described "farm wife," needed
to do something to heal. Turns out milking a goat is a great way to rehabilitate
a broken wrist. Especially if that goat happens to be the very special, personality-plus,
Ida Mae, for whom the café is named.
You could say Ida Mae inspired the opening of the café as well – in a roundabout
way. Barb and her husband Rog (pronounced "Rodge") ended up buying three goats that
day, Ida Mae and her two kids, Iris and Romeo. With all that milking and wrist-healing
going on, Barb and Rog soon found themselves overloaded with more milk than they
could drink. What to do?
Make cheese! Barb had just looked into cheese-making classes when she met Julia
Apaloo in 2010. Barb and Julia’s parents had been friends for many years, but Julia
had been living in the Twin Cities. Barb invited Julia to join her for cheese-making
One thing led to another, and soon they were off to buy another goat, Ida Mae’s
sister, Clarabelle. Their intention was to start selling goat cheese and milk direct
from the farm, but their hopes were quickly dashed by the significant hurdles imposed
by the state of Wisconsin.
And that’s when Barb learned that a café owner in Amery might be selling. The light
bulb went off. She mentioned her idea to Rog and Julia, and the next thing they
knew, they were on their way to owning that very café, with the help of the SCORE
mentorship program. When it came to naming the restaurant, "Ida Mae’s Café" was
the unanimous choice.
Barb and Julia are a natural fit for the restaurant business. Having both cooked
for large groups of people, they have a fabulous repertoire of down-home recipes.
Barb used to cook for farm crews when she and Rog had milked Jerseys years ago.
And Julia, who does most of the cooking at the cafe, not only has extensive restaurant
experience but also grew up cooking for her family. Her parents both worked, and
each of her five brothers and sisters were required to cook one meal per week for
the family. By the age of eleven, she was cooking a full meal!
While Julia spends most of her day behind the grill, Barb is either in the office
tending to the many details that go into running a business or she’s out in the
restaurant, meeting with customers, and finding out about their day. She also bakes
many of the pies for sale at Ida Mae’s.
As for Ida Mae, right now her milk is being put to good use at home, although occasionally
her cheese is given away as free samples in the restaurant. In the future, when
Rog retires, Barb and Rog are looking toward expanding the farm so it can be granted
Grade A status, meaning that Ida Mae’s milk and cheese could be used in the restaurant.
For now, both Ida Mae and Clarabelle have their - ahem - hoof prints on the menu.
Check out the Ida Burger, suggested by a customer and otherwise known as the everything
burger. As the menu states, Ida Mae eats everything so this was the perfect burger
to carry her name. Contrast that with the more refined Clarabelle, whose namesake
sandwich is roast beef and melted Swiss cheese on a ciabatta bun served with au
Ida Mae's is open everyday of the week, except holidays. Hours
are from 6:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays,
and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sundays.
Bakery items are also for sale, including pies, muffins, and cookies.
Special orders are available.
Breakfast is served all day. The daily lunch special is served from 11:00 a.m.
to 2:00 p.m.
Catering services and conference room available.
Contact us for details!
P. S. Be sure to check out
Ida Mae’s Facebook page! You can learn all about Ida Mae, who is the reigning
“queen” goat on the farm, as well as all the members of her court: Clarabelle, Iris,
Peppermint Patti, Ellie, Emily, Clarence, and Barney. Check out all the photos of
their “royal” adventures on the farm!