Taste of the Town
August 23, 2013 • 09:08:35 a.m.

Taste of the Town: Early Light Cafe 'an oasis by the bike path'

By NICOLE WESKERNA - nweskerna@shawmedia.com

Dawn Phillips (left) and Eileen Kanute opened the Early Light Cafe last May in Geneva at the walk-up window in the Mill Race Cyclery shop. The cafe is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week through the end of October. (Nicole Weskerna - nweskerna@shawmedia.com)

If you go

INFO: The Early Light Cafe, 11 E. State St., Geneva, is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week through the end of October. For information, call 630-296-6690.

GENEVA – When it comes to the fare at the Early Light Cafe in Geneva, no detail is too small.

The iced coffee is cold-brewed and steeped overnight. To ensure that no iced coffee drink is watered down, it’s served with ice cubes made out of coffee. The homemade “feel-good granola” made with baked oatmeal isn’t coated with a bunch of sugar – instead, it’s made with honey and healthier coconut oil. And protein-packed chia seeds are baked into a gluten-free cookie.

“If you love what you do, it’s not work,” said Dawn Phillips, who opened The Early Light Cafe last May with Eileen Kanute. “That is totally me and my partner.”

The cafe – what Phillips and Kanute like to call “an oasis by the bike path” – occupies the walk-up window at the Mill Race Cyclery shop on State Street. Being nestled inside of a bike shop that’s next to a popular bike trail, the cafe’s menu is filled with tons of biker-friendly options, including rejuvenating “chuggables” and healthy gluten-free options.

Phillips and Kanute, two mothers who live in Geneva, serve breakfast all day and also offer panini sandwiches, “noms” such as the homemade Trifection snack mix, frozen treats and specialty drinks.

Among the most popular selections is The Kick Stand panini – turkey, ham, pepper jack cheese and a homemade sauce with a little “kick” on a choice of ciabatta or french pan bread. As far as breakfast selections go, Phillips said The Morning Ride – a build-your-own breakfast sandwich – also is popular.

In addition, the menu offers fresh-fruit smoothies and frozen treats, such as the Mocha Madness Recovery Drink, made with FreshGround Roasting coffee out of Yorkville, banana, peanut butter, milk, chocolate ice cream and whipped cream.

Phillips said she used to work at Arcedium Coffeehouse in St. Charles, where her specialty drinks and some of her food recipes, such as the Trifection snack mix, garnered somewhat of a following. Kanute said she and Phillips knew one another through their sons’ sports teams and were running buddies.

They ended up as business partners by chance, they said. Kanute ran into Bruce Heidlauf, owner of the Mill Race Cyclery, and asked what was going on with the ice cream shop that’s attached to Mill Race Cyclery. When he told her he was thinking of going in a new direction, she said she contacted Phillips.

“I told him our ideas. It just fits,” Kanute said. “It’s been a fun adventure.”

Heidlauf also has a sandwich named after him – The Bruce Almighty, which is an ultimate grilled cheese with pepper jack, cheddar, muenster, spinach, bacon, tomato and a special sauce.

The owners’ sons, Josh and Jacob Phillips and Josh and Nick Kanute, have been helping with the cafe all summer, they said. Phillips said they’re planning to keep the cafe open seasonally and will stay open through the end of October.

“I’ve always has a passion for this,” Phillips said. “Cooking makes me feel good and when someone tastes what I cook and I look at the smile on their face, it’s like, ‘oh my gosh.’”

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