BAYFIELD – Tuning Fork Cafe is the only coffee shop in downtown Bayfield. It’s a meeting place for business partners, a stopping point for tourists and a gathering place for the community.
As of late July, it’s also up for sale.
“It’s bittersweet. It’s sad to walk away from something you’ve created from the ground up,” said Tim Lillyquist, co-owner of the cafe.
The Tuning Fork, a mainstay of the Bayfield restaurant scene since it opened in 2012, isn’t closing. Owners Tim and Kellie Lillyquist are looking for a buyer who will keep the cafe the way it is, or as close as possible. The Lillyquists hope to complete the sale by January 2020, but they’re ready to keep the doors open for as long as it takes to find the right buyer.
“We’re very appreciative of the town and how they’ve supported us, that’s why our goal is to not change anything about our restaurant,” Tim Lillyquist said. The couple plan to sell the business as is, including the name, brand and recipes.
When the couple built Tuning Fork, they spent months gutting the building then re-creating the space. Now, the Lillyquists are selling the cafe because they want to reset their work-life balance, reconnect to their family and interests, and have a few adventures along the way. Tim, a musician, wants to invest more time in his band, while Kellie plans to spend more time doing art.
“We’re here six days a week, so it just kind of takes a toll on your health and your social life,” Kellie said.
“We’re just kind of looking to get our lives back,” Tim said.
On most mornings when customers enter the restaurant, they’ll see regulars, Bob Adam and Ron Penning, sitting by the door drinking coffee. They are the kind of customers who know every ingredient in their favorite dishes, the ones who have been coming to the restaurant for years, Monday through Saturday, Adam said.
“I’m sad to see them go. It’ll be hard to replace them as far as cooking,” Adam said. “But we’re going to follow them. We’re gonna go to their house for breakfast.”
Even while ready to move on, Kellie Lillyquist had some reservations. They know their customers will be sad, but that is why they are looking for the right person to take over.
“It’s been a great seven-plus years. We definitely have some wonderful customers,” Kellie said. “I’m going to miss them a lot, but I’m sure I’ll bump into them here and there.”
If Adam has his way, she might even bump into them in her own kitchen.