Regional Dining Guide

Wired Cafe: Coffee is Just Part of the Experience

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Meet a restaurant owner whose love for coffee was the start of her exciting new place in downtown Rockford. Discover her unique brews and delicious bakery menu.

Crystal Douglas, owner of Wired Café in Rockford, gained valuable advice and assistance from her daughters Maggie (left) and Shanna (right). (Rebecca O'Malley photo)

For Crystal Douglas, nothing beats a good cup of java, especially when she goes shopping with her two daughters. “I love good coffee and good atmosphere,” she says.

Douglas also is fond of downtown Rockford. “I loved the feel down here and the architecture,” she says. “There are so many great people, businesses and opportunities to do things.”

So, in 2010, it made perfect sense for Douglas to open her own coffeehouse, Wired Café, 414 E. State St., with the help of daughters Shanna Hill and Maggie Douglas.

“Our focus is all about the coffee and relationships,” says Douglas, who was a stay-at-home mom for many years, and later worked at the Lowe’s Distribution Center, before opening her own business. “Besides raising my kids, this is the most fun I’ve ever had. I really enjoy people.”

Douglas found her ideal location in downtown Rockford after looking in Winnebago, where she used to live. She leased the space and purchased equipment from the building’s former occupant, Sugar & Spice, a coffeehouse that had closed. Douglas kept the space pretty much intact; she added a few new touches, such as artwork produced by local artists, and a “wall of fame” that displays newspaper articles featuring many of her customers.

“It’s like a family here,” she says. “A customer will be greeted by 10 other customers before he or she even gets to the counter. There’ve been many friendships and business connections made here.”

The hardest part, Douglas says, was coming up with a name for her business. “We couldn’t agree on anything,” she says. “I liked the word ‘wired’ because of its connection to coffee as well as the Internet.”

Wired Café buys coffee from roasters in Michigan, Wisconsin and Washington, who ship fresh beans weekly. Douglas estimates the business sells 10 pounds of medium-roasted coffee to every five pounds of dark-roasted. The drink menu includes house coffee, flavored latte, white mocha, cappuccino, espresso and a number of hot teas and fruit smoothies.

Breakfast is served all day long and includes a burrito packed with two eggs, sausage, sautéed onions and peppers, and hollandaise sauce in a whole wheat tortilla. For lunch, a variety of soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps are on the menu, including a spicy beef-n-cheddar, a Big Apple wrap and the whimsical Don’t Tell Hammy, a ham, Swiss, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard sandwich served on sweet brioche bread.

For children, there’s a choice of peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread, macaroni and cheese or a kid’s apple wrap, which includes apple slices, peanut butter and honey, sprinkled with sunflower seeds, in a whole wheat tortilla.

Wired Café also is known for baked goods made fresh daily by Hill. There’s a signature Wired Café Muffin, loaded with espresso, chocolate and caramel, along with different cheesecakes and pastries. Pizzas are sold on Fridays and Wired Café also does a solid carryout business.

Many regular customers work or live in the downtown area, but some find their way to Wired Café from as far away as Winnebago and Belvidere.

“This is one of my favorite places,” says Venita Hervey, Rockford 5th Ward Alderman. “The quality of food and the atmosphere are incredible. Crystal and her daughters have really made this a great place.”

Wired Café hosts an annual summer Party in the Alley not far from the business. The coffeehouse also takes part in fundraisers, including Bacon Fest, an annual event that benefits local arts programs.
“We all help each other,” Douglas says. “I really lucked out. This is where we needed to be. We fit in downtown Rockford.”

Wired Café is open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, except the first Friday of the month, when it features live musical entertainment and closes at 8 p.m. Saturday hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.; the café is closed on Sundays.

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One response to “Wired Cafe: Coffee is Just Part of the Experience”

  1. liz randol says:

    do you have any gluten free pastries available yet? scones etc?