Acoustic Café Serves More Than Just Great Food

Mike Patterson

Morgan Hines-Munson works the register during a busy lunch rush.    ©Mike Patterson 2019


By Mike Patterson

Walking into the Acoustic Café, the smell of homemade bread and fresh coffee flood the senses. Soft music is playing from the speakers and is even enjoyed live on the weekends. Unique artwork adorns the walls, students can be seen hard at work on homework, or families simply enjoying a meal.

Then of course there are the smiling faces of the employees, eager and happy to help. That’s just the kind of environment Eau Claire resident and General Manager Morgan Hines-Munson wants to cultivate at her café.

“Being welcoming is what we really, really strive for,” Hines-Munson said.

The Acoustic Café, at 505 S. Barstow St. In Eau Claire, opened in 1995 by a mother and son duo, Lois Sieve and Blake Heymans. The vision for the café centers on a relaxing and welcoming environment.

In addition to the atmosphere and music, a big emphasis is put on fresh, homemade and locally sourced ingredients whenever possible. Even the bread is baked in house.

“We are known for our hoagies.” Morgan proudly boasts. “Let no one hunger, for lack of a better sandwich,” is the company motto and mission statement.

An Eau Claire resident and University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni, Morgan has big dreams for both herself and the future of the Acoustic Café. She graduated in 2015 with a degree in American Indian Studies and plans to continue in the pursuit of a graduate degree at some point in the future. Although her wedding planned for next year is where much of her focus is currently directed.

“I’m engaged, I’m planning my wedding for next year,” Hines-Munson said, beaming with the glow of an excited bride-to-be. “I do see myself going back to school, maybe after I have kids. Right now, I’m happy where I’m at.”

Morgan has taken some important lessons learned during her time at the University and is now incorporating them into her professional life. In particular, she takes a lot of responsibility with the image of the business and wants to extend that welcoming and inclusive environment she strives for with the Acoustic Café, to all Eau Claire residents.

“Eau Claire has a diverse populous of individuals,” Hines-Munson said. Continuing, she explains how she wants “all residents – regardless of status – to feel welcome.”

“It’s about being welcoming and accepting, but it’s also a sense of responsibility to ensure that everyone feels welcome,” Hines-Munson said.

Music and live entertainment are just as big a part of the Acoustic Café’s business model, as is cultivating a welcoming atmosphere. And keeping with the diverse customer base, the entertainment aspect is quite diverse as well.

“We see Americana, folk, acoustic acts, rock. We used to do poetry slams even,” Hines-Munson said. “As long as it’s something that would bring in a crowd or interest the community, we’ll bring them in.”

Eggplant Heroes are a local act and regular performers at the café. They also happen to be one of the favorites of many customers.

In just a few short years of working at the Acoustic Café and working her way up from baker to where she is now as General Manager, Morgan Hines-Munson demonstrates a very customer-centered mindset with how she approaches her role at the Acoustic Café.

“There are regulars who; I know their name, their order,” Hines-Munson said. “I know they don’t like crackers; I know they like extra crackers; I know they want five packs of crackers, but only if it’s tomato basil soup. Having that rapport with people is really important.”

Continuing on the subject of providing excellent customer service, Hines-Munson quipped, “when you’re small that’s pretty much your bread and butter.”

After more than 20 years in the heart of downtown Eau Claire, the Acoustic Café has cultivated a unique experience for guests.

An experience that is “uniquely Eau Claire,” as coined by Hines-Munson and one that makes all feel welcome.