Beating the winter slump

Silly Serrano to become “Cafe Serrano” as it transitions between two locations

More stories from Timothy Spierings

Chow on the Chipp
March 7, 2022

Timothy Spierings

Sheila and Juan Arredondo, the owners of Silly Serrano, have both been in the restaurant business for over 20 years.

The Eau Claire farmer’s market will be without familiar and close by Mexican food across the street this coming fall.

Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant, currently located across the street from Phoenix Park, will become “Cafe Serrano” temporarily as it moves locations away from downtown.

Its new location is none other than the former location of the Living Room Coffee House found on Cameron Street near Clairemont Avenue.

“Silly Serrano still will exist downtown by Phoenix Park all through the summer,” Sheila Arredondo, the owner of Silly Serrano, said. “In September when our lease is up downtown, we will hopefully have everything ready to go.”

The plan is to operate in both locations, as a commercial kitchen is constructed at Cameron Street, since it currently does not feature one for Silly Serrano to use for its cuisine.

The decision to move, Arredondo said, is mostly due to the change in business in different times of year.

“We have this space which is great in the summer but in the winters the business really slows down,” Arredondo said. “So we’ve been looking to have a place of our own and so we were able to buy the Living Room coffee shop building.”

The Arredondos bought the coffee shop officially on Monday, March 7 and opened it back up the following day on Tuesday, March 8. 

The former owners of the Living Room, now operating in Northwoods, Wis. at The Outpost, were unavailable for comment.

Dustin Olson of Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. said it’s not uncommon for downtown Eau Claire to experience a slump in business in the colder months. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has also thrown downtown businesses into new situations.

The new location is likely to provide Silly Serrano more visibility. There are challenges to being based downtown, and among those is parking, Olson said. The new location on Cameron Street has parking included.

“We’re sorry to see Silly Serrano go and we’re sorry we couldn’t help them to make it work in their current location and they’re great people,” Olson said. “We hope they find more business and success where they’re moving but we’re sad to see them go.”

Arredondo said Silly Serrano originally opened three years ago in its current location at 329 Riverfront Ter. after she and her husband, Juan Arredondo, decided to move to the Eau Claire area to be closer to family and open their own business. 

“The ‘Café Serrano’ is like the interim period business that is the coffee and we’re going to start adding more breakfast items in the next few weeks,” Arredondo said. “Breakfast burritos and maybe the tamales and maybe breakfast sandwiches because I guess there’s been a huge demand for breakfast items.”

Arredondo described the current cuisine of Silly Serrano as Mexican food with a healthy flare that is a counter service, a “quick and casual” restaurant. 

Cafe Serrano will be continuing its use of coffee provided by The Outpost for loyal customers, however she said there is always a possibility of adding Mexican drinks to the menu, like the horchata they currently offer. 

The operation plan for now is to offer coffee from 7 a.m. to around noon to patrons, then transition into the traditional Silly Serrano menu in the later part of the day. Arredondo said they are utilizing the staff of the former Living Room to keep the cafe aspect running. 

Overall, Arredondo said she didn’t feel too nervous about the change in location impacting their popularity and that their overall business year-round will improve.

“We may lose some of the people going to the farmer’s market, they’re right there and just come across (the street),” Arredondo said. “But I feel like for the majority of the part, those people are going to be driving past our business to come to the farmers market. People drive past there to go to Mayo or drive past there either on their way to work or on the way home.”

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].