Small Business Saturday began with a coffee and breakfast at the Exchange Coffee, Mercantile, and Eatery in Downtown De Pere on a breezy November morning. It looked different than every Small Business Saturday that went before it with people wearing their masks even on the sides of the road, while they stood in line to go into the small businesses that so need their help to continue to survive the pandemic. The Exchange was no different with spots on the floor to mark proper social distancing and laminated menus to be washed off behind the counter after you ordered.
I talked about them more than a month ago when I wrote a short series highlighting favored and interesting local food businesses in the area, and The Exchange was a large part of my coffee article when I discussed other places I still wanted to go. We finally got there that morning, hungry and not at all caffeinated. We changed that quickly in their beautiful indoor dining area. Other patrons made sure to help maintain distance at tables, and the Exchange itself adopted a system where customers deposited their own dishes into washbins to limit interactions with staff during our stay.
It’s called Coffee, Mercantile, and Eatery because you can do all of those things there. There is even a small barber shop attached! Their mercantile area donates proceeds to organizations working to end human trafficking in Wisconsin, and it’s a great stop on your Christmas shopping journey if you want to do good work with your dollars besides supporting local businesses. While we did not find anything there that immediately spoke to the needs of our families, the food gave us every reason to be happy we stopped in for a bite to eat and coffee.
Their Fall specials ended that day, so we got ourselves a good amount of them to spend our money well on Small Business Saturday. We eyed the pumpkin cheesecake crepes from afar since I first looked into The Exchange, and so my husband ordered that for himself. We didn't notice until after he completely demolished it that it was served to look like a slice of pie. He didn't utter a word the entire time he ate, which is the highest praise the man can give.
We shared their Wisco Disco Beer Cheese appetizer served with their bubble waffles as the dipping utensil. If you know anything about me, Stillmank is in my top 3 breweries in the great city of Green Bay, so anything made with Wisco Disco will be a welcome taste. The beer actually does come across in this beer cheese rather than just serving as a liquid mechanism for a cheese sauce. Plus, dipping little triangles of their super cute bubble waffles into it was as tasty as anything. I should have ordered a giant to go container of just that beer cheese. I ate what we took home the next day in record timing.
My breakfast was a simple one: their classic breakfast combo with their bubble waffle, scrambled eggs, and turkey bacon. The bubble waffles remain such a lovely novelty to me, and I’d love to play with whatever iron creates that texture. They hold up to dipping in Wisco Disco Beer Cheese (which returns on the Winter Menu, thank you folks!), and they soak up maple syrup like no one’s business. The scramble was fluffy, and the turkey bacon crispy beyond what anyone would expect of a turkey bacon.
These three lovely products propelled The Exchange to the top of the list my husband and I keep in our minds for when our families are finally able to visit the city we’ve grown to love since we moved to Green Bay more than a year ago now. COVID-19 has kept us from sharing the many great restaurants of our city, but there is hope on the horizon. Let’s pray that hope is enough to keep small businesses like The Exchange open for business for many, many years to come.
This is to say nothing about their coffee. My latte was well prepared with oat milk according to my dietary restrictions with not a single issue (says the woman who still ordered a beer CHEESE side, despite lactose intolerance), and my husband’s Chai tea disappeared as quickly as his pumpkin cheesecake crepe. They offer their own roasted blend that you can order whole or pre-ground, and as always, we encourage you to do as much as possible locally. The Exchange is just one more local option to get your home coffee from while we try to keep our friends and neighbors afloat during the pandemic.
Their Winter Menu is now live, and you can check that out on their Facebook page. I may or may not be planning on ordering their new Winter Goat Cheese and Apple Salad for myself on a work from home day. Anyone looking to check out the Exchange for themselves can of course head down to Downtown De Pere and say hello, but you can order ahead from Toasttab or get delivery from UberEats.
We will be back, friends. And I’ll probably be ordering my lunch from you for so long as I get a few days working from home.