Get a Taste of Local Flavor at Breese’s New Bistro By Theresa Schmidt With jazz music playing softly in the background and the smell of coffee perfuming the air, Breese’s new bistro is the kind of place that inspires you to finally read that book you’ve been wanting to get to, or sit and bask in the sense of calm that you usually can’t find in everyday life. Called Flavors Café and Wine Bar, this cozy little place offers a combination of wines, coffees, art and music to soothe your soul after a busy day: “It’s a relaxing atmosphere, surrounded by beautiful artwork on a casual, laidback kind of atmosphere,” said owner Lynn Gebke. “You come in, you can bring your computer, sit down, use the Wi-Fi service, get a cup of coffee. And if you’re here an hour maybe you get hungry and you want a chicken salad sandwich, grab something to eat.” Opened in February 2010, Flavors started as a distant dream of Gebke, but became an immediate reality when she passed by the bistro’s current location and was captivated by the place: “I walked around and fell in love with the woodwork, the hardwood floors, everything about it—the bones of the building was in really good shape. We wanted a place that had character. Everything fell into place, and here I am.” Working 75 hours a week, Gebke actually owns and operates the bistro herself, but somehow still finds time and energy to keep the bistro busy with a flurry of activities. One of the bistro’s highlights is its “Group Therapy Nights,” held the second Thursday of every month and featuring trivia, games and prizes, wine specials, and, of course, social interaction: “The group therapy is more of a fun thing to do with the wines…We don’t want people to feel intimidated when they come in, so it is for the inexperienced wine drinkers as well as the experienced.” For the more experienced and adventurous wine drinkers, Flavors offers a unique challenge: “You go through and you drink a glass of all 20 wines—obviously not in one sitting— and once you reach the 20 wines you get a free a t-shirt that says ‘I conquered all 20 at Flavors café’ and then you get discounts into our private wine tastings that we have, and you’re part of the ‘club’ then,” Gebke stated. With the exception of the cost of the wines, there is no extra charge for the program; interested customers are welcome any time during business hours and Flavors will be happy keep track of their wine “to-do” list for them. A strong supporter of art, Gebke is extremely excited about the upcoming High School Art Show, which will showcase the talents of Clinton County High Schools’ budding artists. With the help of the Clinton County Art Guild and competition coordinator Mindy Wicklander of Nashville, the competition will display submitted art at Flavors from November 27-December 18, during which time the public may vote for the best artwork in each category (two- dimensional, three-dimensional and photography) by donating quarters to their favorite pieces. Gebke hopes the new location will increase student involvement: “We’ve tried to have a high school art competition out at our Art and Wine Festival and it really has not been successful, so we decided to do a separate event where the kids get a little more of the focus, they get a little more of the attention.” Flavors will also feature a Silent Auction Fundraiser for the Clinton County Art Guild coinciding with the art competition opening on November 27, and a reception along with the announcement of the winners on Saturday, December 18. All high school students from Wesclin, Breese Central, Mater Dei, Carlyle and Christ Our Rock Lutheran are invited to participate; applications can be obtained at Flavors and should be submitted by November 1. The winning artist in each category will receive the proceeds from any votes for their piece; all other donations—including those from the Silent Auction--will go towards the Clinton County Art Guild. As another nod to local flavor, Flavors gets all its food fresh from Chef Cari and Dinner at Your Door, Inc. of O’Fallon, Ill., who supply the bistro with a healthy selection of chicken salads, deli sandwiches and soups. In addition, Flavors also orders all of its coffees, lattes, cappuccinos, mochas, smoothies, frappes and teas from St. Louis-based Kaldi’s Coffee, recipient of the “Best Coffee in St. Louis” award by the Riverfront Times for June and September 2009. Constantly experimenting with new flavors, Gebke says her favorite creations are the “English Toffee Coffee” and the bistro’s signature “Monet Mochas,” boasting a blend of white chocolate and coconut. As Gebke’s favorite artist, Claude Monet is a prominent inspiration for Flavors: “The name of the room upstairs is our Monet room; the bar--we crushed wine bottles and formed a design like the water lilies that Monet painted. The wine bottle colors actually came out very similar to what’s in Monet’s water lilies; it worked out perfectly on the top of the bar.” While Gebke glued down most of the glass herself and her husband built the frame, she did receive some help from the Clinton County Art Guild members, who have also been very helpful in making Flavors a success: “Art Guild’s been a huge support; they’re always willing to bring their artwork up here, they’re always here helping, they come in and they talk about their artwork with the customers, which I love. It’s amazing some of the talent we have in our area.” So what does the future hold for Flavors? Gebke already has big plans: “I would love to have some really well-known artists want to come here some day. I think that’s one of my biggest goals, is to just expose the community enough to artwork that they appreciate it, accept it.” Whatever its future holds, Flavors clearly offers the area an exciting new ‘flavor’ of its own. For more information about Flavors or any of its upcoming events, check out www.flavorswinebar.com or contact Lynn Gebke at 618-526-8466. You can also check out Flavors Café and Wine Bar in person at 240 N. Main St., Breese, Ill. 62230.
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