Port coffeehouse is in tune with special diets

Owners of Lakeside Music and Naturals launch Banjo’s Coffee, plan menu that will appeal to those with food restrictions
Ozaukee Press staff

Husband and wife duo Aaron Rossmiller and Kat Chronis noticed fewer people in downtown Port Washington after Smith Bros. Coffee Shop shut its doors in Sept. 2021 so they decided it was time to bring Banjo’s Coffee and Brews to their store, Lakeside Music and Naturals, at 115 N. Franklin St.

“The Smith Brothers manager was a musician and regular customer of our Grafton location, so he enticed us to come (to Port),” Chronis said. “We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Smith Brothers and then the coffee shop actually wouldn’t be here either.”

“There was such a void downtown with foot traffic once they closed,” she continued. “There were always a lot of people walking downtown, but once they closed we saw significantly less people downtown.”

The two knew exactly what they had to do, and that was put their own spin on the quaint coffee shop style. But don’t be confused, there was also some family influence, too. Chronis’ parents owned diners themselves and she grew up working in them, and Chronis’ father always said a coffee shop would make the perfect addition to the music store.

However, family history and replacing Smith Bros. wasn’t the only thing on the duo’s mind. Chronis — who is in her final semester of graduate school to become a nurse practitioner and maintains a plant-based diet — wanted to create a menu so those with meat and dairy dietary restrictions have a place to grab coffee with varied snack options.

“We lived in Milwaukee for quite some time and you could readily access places that accommodate dietary restrictions so I had no problem eating,” Chronis said. “Here, it’s a lot more challenging.”

Chronis said a few local restaurants have vegan options, but these options only include a couple of dishes.

Currently, the coffee shop is selling traditional coffee options alongside concoctions friendly to those with dietary restrictions but the two plan on offering sandwiches, alongside already available baked goods after their baby is born, which Chronis said is expected to be within the next three weeks. They said an expanded food menu is expected to come in middle to late fall.

Rossmiller and Chronis met several years ago at Rossmiller’s Sheboygan Lakeside Music location, and the rest is history. Upon meeting Chronis, Rossmiller embarked on a culinary adventure to better serve her in the kitchen. He quickly became familiar with plant-based foods and his recipes will make the coffee shop’s menu.

“I started to learn new ways of making things,” Rossmiller said. “At this point, I can make pretty much any recipe no matter if it’s vegan or not. I know what my substitutions are off the top of my head and what to do from there that will make the dish taste good.”

While the official menu is currently in the research phase, a beet reuben sandwich and an artichoke mushroom sandwich are in the works. Their son Rayn is a huge fan of the beet reuben sandwich, considering he let out a wide smile while exclaiming how delicious it is.

Family is important to the musically gifted business duo, which is why the coffee shop is named after their rescue dog, Banjo. The family element is furthered by family tradition, Chronis said Rossmiller first got into baking when their two kids came along and wanted to help out in the kitchen.

“Rayn is a big reason why the baking started,” Chronis said. “Since he was 1, he has always stood up next to Aaron (Rossmiller) while cooking in the kitchen. He’d be baking with him all the time because prior to that Aaron didn’t really bake.”

Rossmiller said the shop has been open since Aug. 6, but that won’t stop them from having a delayed celebration of its grand opening. On Aug. 27, Banjo’s Coffee and Brews will host live music from 2 to 4 p.m., plus 10% of the coffee shop’s proceeds will go to the Humane Society as a nod to the shop’s namesake.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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