Sparta business owner sponsors ‘write an essay, win a café’ competition

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) —  Fulfilling a longtime dream, Tammy Haldeman opened Meraki Café and Curio Shoppe last November. But she realized she has other dreams to chase — dreams that she’s had to keep on the back burner.

“I think I just wanted to create a place for people to hang out that was welcoming and full of positivity,” Haldeman said.

In hopes to hand the shop over to good hands, Haldeman is sponsoring a competition: “write an essay, win a café” in Sparta. This contest was inspired by a different competition she entered several years ago.

“It was ‘write an essay, win an inn in Maine’. I thought ‘What the heck! What have you got to lose?’ I think the entry fee was $150,” Haldeman said.

She didn’t win the competition, but liked the idea of paying it forward with her own shop.

“I want somebody who has a similar dream as I have, you know?” she said. ” There’s so many things you can do with this place. It would just be amazing for somebody to have it that doesn’t have a mortgage over their head or a lot of start-up expenses.”

When she’s working, her shifts are filled with brewing, baking, and her favorite: people.

“Talking with customers and enjoying the community,” Haldeman said.

Though the cafe has been open for less than a year, it has already become a community staple.

“Well this week, I’ve probably been here three times. And the week’s not over yet!” shop regular Rita Bernette said.

Though Haldeman enjoys it, she wants to hand it over so she can spend her time traveling, podcasting and writing.

“I like to write — I’ve written two books. I’d like to do more of that,” Haldeman said. “It does tie you down, I’d like to be able to do some of those other interests.”

She knows, too, that she will still visit the café, and its regulars, often.

“I hate to see her go, but you know, we have to do what we feel is in our heart, and follow what’s in store in our journey,” Bernette said.

The essay contest costs $200 per entry and runs until Nov. 30. Anyone who is interested can enter — and a separate panel of judges will pick the competition’s winner.

For the contest to work, Haldeman needs 2,500 entries. She says she will extend that deadline if necessary, but if it doesn’t garner enough interest, entrants will be refunded.

Haldeman said Meraki is in the perfect location — next to the Love Lock Bridge on Water Street.

Full details about the essay competition can be found on Meraki Cafe’s website.

Recent News Headlines from News 8 Now