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Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2009

The Hub Offers Bubble Tea, Healthy Fare in Cedarburg

New spot just off the Ozaukee Interurban Trail

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The cultivation of today’s bicycle-commuter generation is showing an upward trend by all the restaurants and cafes setting up shop near bike trails. Like Cedarburg’s newest restaurant, The Hub, located just off the Ozaukee Interurban Trail (OIT), restaurants are positioning themselves along the trails because both two-wheeled and four-wheeled travelers guarantee traffic. When the seasons rotate, The Hub will feed another group of OIT enthusiasts: cross-country skiers training for the American Birkebeiner in Hayward, Wis., site of North America’s largest cross-country ski marathon. And the trail is used throughout the year by all kinds of people, from birdwatchers to runners.

When Kathy and Rick Lanser opened The Hub in downtown Cedarburg in June, they wanted to avoid overlapping their menu with those of neighboring businesses. As they were analyzing market trends during their travels, the Lansers found something they liked and put it on The Hub’s menu: bubble tea. At the bottom of a cup of this sweet, icy, teabased drink is a layer of tiny marble-size tapioca pearls—round, black and chewy. They’re sucked up through a fat straw and then chewed, not swallowed.

It’s hard to imagine frozen yogurt would fare very well in custard country, but Jeff Starks of the Himalayan Institute bequeathed the Lansers an outstanding recipe for probiotic-rich yogurt that makes the frozen treat an actual contender for dessert.

The rest of The Hub’s menu leans toward the healthy side, with a sizable selection of smoothies made with crushed fruit. Customers can choose to add ingredients like frozen yogurt, soft-serve ice cream and “boosts,” dietary supplements such as the “Immune Formula” and the “Whole Grain Vitamin Blend.” Along with soups and salads, The Hub also features hot dogs, paninis, subs and gyros. When the weather cools and buskers taking advantage of The Hub’s “Sing for Your Supper” sidewalk sessions have to venture indoors, they’ll find a winterized menu that includes hot chocolate and bread bowls filled with hearty soups.

To open in time for Cedarburg’s renowned Strawberry Festival in June, the Lansers had to renovate the historic building they had just purchased within five weeks. They lifted the ceilings, created a loft and colored the space using a light, cheerful palette. Along with recycled art, the walls hold two flat-screen TVs, perfect for parties and community groups using the space for meetings.

It was at the Strawberry Festival that The Hub’s Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich garnered a following. The restaurant’s gyro served with homemade yogurt sauce did the same with the crowds at the town’s Summer Sounds series. When the Lansers close the restaurant and open The Hub’s booth for the Wine & Harvest Festival Sept. 19-20, they’ll be featuring their two best sellers, as well as a choice collection of smoothies. For those hoping to avoid the inevitable traffic, hop on the OIT bike path to walk, skate or ride to the festival.

Will independently owned and environmentally conscious restaurants that promote healthy lifestyles, like The Hub, one day dot the banks of the country’s recreational paths the way McDonald’s franchises are now planted at highway exits? Let’s hope so.

The Hub, W63N631 Washington Ave., Cedarburg, 262-618-4751/ www.thehubserveitup.com/

Photo by Amelia Coffaro