Mike Wroblewski credits his employees for setting the
cafés apart in a competitive coffee business.
Photo by Mark Justesen
THIENSVILLE — Late one afternoon last week, Fiddleheads
owner Mike Wroblewski briefly sat in the Fiddleheads
Thiensville location surrounded by racks of cooling
bakery, the sound of coffee production in the back and a
small team of employees steadily going about the
business of the day.
“It’s because of these guys,” he said, gesturing around
to the handful of employees going about their shifts.
“That’s why we are so successful. The coffee business is
hyper competitive, and there are many places that serve
good coffees. These guys are what set us apart.”
Clearly the community embraces Fiddleheads Coffee, as
Wroblewski was told that his business had received
multiple nominations for and was ultimately the
recipient of this year’s Small Business of the Year
award from Ozaukee Economic Development.
“When my sister, Lynn, and I first started in 1996,
there were only three locally owned coffeehouses in the
county: Java House in Cedarburg, Java Dock in Port
Washington and our first location in Thiensville,” he
Fiddleheads in Thiensville can watch the Milwaukee River
as they enjoy food and drinks on an outdoor patio.
Photo by Mark Justesen
Lynn Wrobeleski, who died in 2011, had returned home
from living in Colorado. She had worked in coffeehouses
there, and decided she wanted to open one of her own
back home. Six months later, Mike joined his sister in
the business. As of this year, Fiddleheads Coffee has
grown to five locations.
“Our shared goal was to create a place where people
would come in for coffee and other good quality
products, and leave a little happier than when they came
in,” he said.
Over time, they were joined by Lynn’s future husband,
Steve Klimczak, who started out playing guitar in the
coffeehouse and ultimately became the roastmaster for
had started by getting our beans from other local
roasters, but we realized it made much more sense to
bring that into our business,” he said. “Steve learned
the trade from master coffee guru Willem Boot in
California, and we started quietly introducing our own
blends, which people really responded well to.”
Wroblewski noted that coffee itself is a very shippable
product, which helped them expand the retail side of
their business. Additionally, the business has come full
circle, as Fiddleheads now supplies its own coffee to
cafés, restaurants and even companies for their in-house
Though Fiddleheads Coffee also initially relied on
outside purveyors for its bakery products, in 2011 it
established its own bakery operation in Thiensville,
which supplies the bakery to all of its locations.
Wroblewski is pleased with how Fiddleheads has grown and
will continue to grow.
haven’t been out to conquer the world by franchising or
by growing on some set schedule,” he said. “But we
definitely do want to continue to grow our business and
next step? Menomonee Falls, where the company recently
announced plans to open its sixth coffeehouse in a
like to own our properties, but we have acquired
existing coffeehouses over the years and ‘Fiddleized’
them,” he noted. “We’re really excited about this next
also said that customers should keep watching for new
technology that will enhance their ordering experience.
do have other irons in the fire, too,” he said with a
smile. “We’re always looking for that next big step.”
Businesses of the Year
Ozaukee Economic Development recently announced its 2017
Businesses of the Year. The annual award, which started
2013, recognizes businesses that have seen significant
business and job growth and are strong community
year’s honorees are:
Small business – Fiddleheads
Mid-size business –
Large business –
The businesses will be
recognized Sept. 26
at OED’s Business of the Year/Economic Forecast
Breakfast at the Ozaukee Pavilion on the county
fairgrounds in Cedarburg.