Business growing for coffee shop owner
Name: Mike Wanzer
Birthday: Oct. 10, 1965
Family: I’m single.
Businesses: Kingsbury Coffee Stop, co-owner of Lake Tahoe Catering Company, both at 292 Kingsbury Grade, (775) 588-5393, and Fat City Food Company at the Town and Country shopping center next to Whiskey Dicks, which will open Memorial Day.
How long have you lived at Lake Tahoe and what brought you here? I’ve been here 19 years. My family came up here from Angels Camp. My father, who had been up here visiting, came home one day and said, “You’ve gotta check Tahoe out. It’s got everything from skiing to biking.” The family packed up and moved here. My brother John is also here. He owns Paving Stones R Us.
How did you get into the restaurant business? Like most people, I started out as a cook and just got lucky over time. I picked up cooking from my grandmother when I was a kid and the got a job cooking when I lived in Washington.
Later, after I moved up here and was cooking, I wanted to make money, so I became a bartender at Horizon Casino Resort. After I got tired of that, I went on to manage and bartend and cook at the Hot Pepper restaurant, which was at Round Hill.
And then one day about four years ago a friend and I were at a barbecue and she turned to me and said, “I want you to be my caterer.” She managed Lakeland Village. After that, everything just started happening. Since then, I’ve been doing catering for large and small parties. It’s worked out quite well. Each year the business has grown.
How many people do you employ between the coffee shop and the catering company? I have four cooks; all of them are really creative in what they do. That’s why I let them do their thing, because they’re the best at what they do. I’ve been really lucky. We have a great group. We’re all friends outside of work.
You stock your restaurant with locally made food. Why? It just makes good business sense. There’s a better quality control if you know the businesses you buy from. Instead of buying from one company, I try to spread the love around to everyone. We get our bagels from Rude Brothers, our coffee from Alpen Sierra and our pastries from Don’s Bake Shop.
So there is something to be said about keeping it local? It is the local clientele – mostly here on Kingsbury – that keeps me alive. The tourists during the summer and winter are really just the gravy. But it is the locals who come in and have coffee and breakfast and lunch that have allowed this place to grow from a bagel-and-coffee shop to a restaurant.
What do you do when you’re not working? I love to ski and mountain bike. I used to do it more, but lately I’ve been too busy. I also like to get over to Carson City for skeet shooting.
What is your life’s guiding philosophy? It’s about being nice and mellow. My jobs require me to be all over the place doing a dozen things at once. I try to keep a cool consistency about life and work. As a Libra, we try not to get too worked up over stuff that’s in or out of our control.
Basically, I don’t sweat the small stuff because it is all small stuff. And, I treat people the way they would want to be treated. It is as simple as that.
– Do you know someone who would make a great candidate for 15 Minutes? E-mail your suggestions to email@example.com