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Baking Barons, Burley Oak team up for new café

(July 6, 2017) After three months of renovations, the former Berlin Coffee House on 17 Jefferson Street reopened on Friday as the Burley Café, operated now by Burley Oak Brewing Company owner Bryan Brushmiller and the Brooklyn Baking Barons, also known as Chris Poeschl and Tony Lanuza.
It was a soft opening, unannounced on social media or otherwise, but guests from the nearby Atlantic Hotel trickled in that morning for freshly brewed Rise Up Coffee Roasters coffee and Poeschl’s fresh fruit oatmeal, a recipe handed down from his grandmother.
Familiar faces from the brewery, including Brushmiller and his wife, Nicole, were putting the finishing touches on the large, open dining room in the café. The idea, they said, was to make guests feel welcome and as if they were walking into a friend’s kitchen.
Of the roughly 30 seats in the space, five are on barstools close enough to the action that you can watch Poeschl and Lanuza whip up a meal, serve it to you, and top off your glass of wine.
Brushmiller said the partnership with the Baking Barons, who have been featured in “People” magazine and are frequent guests on nationally televised cooking shows like “The Chew,” was a natural fit.
“We’ve been friends since they moved to town and we were just talking about it one day. I think they were really unimpressed with my idea of what the food should be and they wanted to come and save me,” Brushmiller said with a laugh.
As Lanuza tells it, they ran into Brushmiller on the day after he signed the lease and he approached them about providing desserts for the café.
“The more we thought about it we thought, why are we going to limit ourselves to just desserts? Everybody knows we do desserts well, but we can cook too,” he said. “It was kind of just meant to be.”
Lanuza said his vision was a place where guests can come in and, if they wanted to, stay from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The café will serve breakfast lunch and dinner, and beer, wine and coffee.
He said the menu would start small and slowly expand.
“We want to be nimble and we want to be able to change frequently,” Poeschl said. “If we’re at the grocery store and the pears look incredible, I’m going to make a pear tart for that evening. If the next day I come across pheasant, we’ll do a pheasant special that night. We want to be inspired by the things we find, especially at local markets.”
On Friday, he made vegetarian lasagna using fresh produce from a local roadside stand.
“It’s beautiful and local and delicious. I think that’s an emphasis we want to have on our food,” Poeschl said.
Brushmiller said there would also be staples on the menu such as cheese and charcuterie boards that pair well with beer and wine, as well as other small plates.
The Barons are especially proud of their Peruvian twist on traditional chicken wings, made with a marinade of lime, paprika, garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil, and served with a green jalapeño and cilantro sauce.
“The two flavors together are just bananas,” Poeschl said.
“We’re doing smaller portions, especially for happy hour when it’ll be more of like a tapas kind of feel – small plates and some things that are easily shared,” he continued. “It’s also the kind of place where, if you wanted to have a meal you could get three or four plates. It can be whatever you make it. It’s my goal that, if you come in one week to the next you always find something different and find something new.”
There will also be a “brunch everyday” feel, according to Brushmiller, with champagne for mimosas joining the beer and wine on the menu. He said the bar menu would have plenty of locally made Burley Oak beer, but would also include a rotating selection of other regional and national craft beers.
“We know so many people in the brewing industry, and as brewers we have friends all over the country and we love their beers,” he said. “To be able to put our friends’ beers on tap and then to pair those beers with food and have them come down and visit our town – that’s what we’re really excited about. We can get beer from Brooklyn or Maine or L.A., and we want to showcase all of that.”
The Baking Barons also have plenty of friends in the industry and said guest chefs could be a regular occurrence.
Brushmiller hopes the café will become an anchor of the town, much like his brewery is. But, he also has his sights set even higher.
“This could become a great pillar where people will come and judge the town on our food,” he said. “We’re also trying to get a Michelin star – we’re trying to do something that’s global, where people are coming in and saying, ‘Holy cow, you have go to Berlin.’ Just like they make the trip to the brewery, they’ll make that trip to get some of the most sought-after food there is.
“And we can show people that great food can be done very simply too,” Brushmiller continued. “We really want to give locals and tourists alike an experience that they really can only find in the bigger cities.”
The Burley Café will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. It will be open later during town events, including the upcoming Bathtub Races.
Outdoor patio seating is planned and could add about 20 additional seats.