For nearly 30 years, Vicki Bavela and her family have brought their own personal brand of dining experience to their customers in Menomonee Falls. Warm, friendly and inviting. A cozy atmosphere featuring delicious food in ample servings.
This was the natural hospitality they brought with them when they moved from Greece to America in 1987. Their heritage stresses the importance of family and making new friends every day. It’s been their hallmark at two different restaurants, including their first establishment in Colonial Plaza and then, for the past 15 years, at the Oasis Family Restaurant, N85W15990 Appleton Avenue.
Now, the family embarks on a completely new culinary excursion, transforming the Oasis into Cafe Agora which is set to open this week.
“We always like to bring families together and that’s what this place is all about,” said Bavela, who will run the establishment with her two daughters. Her husband, Tim Nassapoulos, has retired. “We have parties and families that like to come here and have a good time. Agora means ‘a place of gathering.’
The dining concept at Cafe Agora will be different from the Oasis because Bavela believes her Menomonee Falls customers are looking for something more, something different that you can’t find anywhere else in the area.
“The dishes on our menu are not something you can find next door or down on the corner,” said Bavela. “Our food is gourmet and international, featuring Greek recipes either made by us or those we’ve collected over the years. We felt that Menomonee Falls deserved a totally different kind of restaurant.”
Cafe Agora features a variety of house favorites for breakfast and lunch and will be open Saturday through Thursday from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be open Fridays from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and will feature a bountiful fish fry. Chef Bryan Gruehn brings his vast experience in the restaurant business to the Agora and has been the main creator of many house gourmet dishes.
Why change the concept of a restaurant as popular as the Oasis? Bavela believes diners today want something different, a menu that is fresh, original and pays closer attention to the health aspect of the dining experience.
“The new direction, the new age of eating calls for paying closer attention to what you are eating and watching your diet,” said Bavela. “People eat good protein but eat light with fresh fruits and vegetables. We are not going to pre-cook anything and everything will be made from scratch. It might take a little longer to prepare the meals but, in the end, it’s worth it. Your mouth and tongue will be asking for more!”
The Agora experience begins from the time each customer steps through the door with a friendly greeting by the hostess. It continues with a menu that runs the range from signature specialty dishes such as specialty pancakes and Eggs Florentine to a variety of crepes, French toast, waffles, omelets. While breakfast is available throughout the day, those with an appetite for lunch can choose from delicious salads to sandwiches, wraps, paninis and burgers or a special drink and a house dessert.
The new concept at Cafe Agora will mean more jobs for the Falls as Bavela doubled her staff to 20. The higher scale menu offerings will also boost prices a bit but Bavela does not see that as any sort of problem.
“Prices will be a bit higher but I don’t think people will be looking at the price when they want to be satisfied,” Bavela explained. “I go around and look at my competition and customers are more concerned with their health and their satisfaction than the price. We don’t go out because we are hungry. We go out because we need a different experience, atmosphere and, of course, the food.”
Cafe Agora will indeed do many things differently. However, customers will quickly notice that one very important ingredient will stay the same: the warm, friendly, family atmosphere.
“We’ve been in the Falls for nearly 30 years and we grew up with all of these people,” Bavela smiles. “I know they are coming here because they love us. They like our personality and they like our food. But I know they are going to like our food much, much better than before.”
For more information, visit www.fallscafeagora.com.