The American Hero's Cafe has a new home in the Festival Grocery Store!! They have built a larger facility and given the Cafe a larger more comfortable place for the Veterans to meet, greet and enjoy coffee and doughnuts provided by Festival! Now located on the 2nd floor in the back of the store over looking the Deli! Located at: 3401 80th St, Kenosha, WI 53142
- Cross Streets: Between 34th Ave and 35th Ave
- The History of the American Heroes Café
In late 2009, Dad and I learned of the Stars & Stripes Honor Flight via WTMJ Radio and followed up by looking at the SSHF website. Dad was 93 at the time, living in a wonderful nursing home in Kenosha, sharp as a tack, yet worried that the event might be too stressful. Within a few days and without any pressure, Dad started talking about what the day in Washington might be like. So man and daughter found the combined courage to talk about his war history, and in 2010 Dad and I sent in our application as veteran and guardian to become part of the waiting list for an upcoming flight!
Dad passed away in his sleep on March 19, 2010, just days before I got the call that he had been selected to fly on the May 2010 flight. All Dad wanted to do was to thank his fellow veterans for their service and to give a final thank you to those who risked and gave their lives for him. When the May date grew closer, I asked my best friend, Sharon Janusz, to go with me to Mitchell Airport for the evening’s homecoming celebration and thank the brave men and women on Dad’s behalf. We arrived at the airport with our cameras, flags, a photo of Dad, and proudly wore my Dad’s Ike Jacket. We spent the evening shaking strong hands, shouting out thank you’s and crying tears of pride. We were overwhelmed by emotion and little did we know, that evening would change our lives and strengthen our love of our country’s heroes forever.
By 2011, we decided that we should share this experience with more people from the Kenosha area, so the idea of renting a bus to transport people between Kenosha and Milwaukee became a reality. During 2011-12 Sharon and I set up an information table in the entryway of the Spiegelhoff’s Super Valu. What happened was the gathering of about 20-30 people anxious to join together in a spirit of patriotism and appreciation for the sacrifices of so many. We were able to reach out to veterans who wanted to thank other veterans and civilians who just wanted and need a way to honor those who represented their grandfathers and grandmothers, dads and moms, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters; and yes, sons and daughters. After a few “set ups”, the manager of Spiegelhoff’s, Kevin Karweik, asked us to consider whether we would like a permanent home with in the store to honor veterans. What a gift! And such was the beginnings of the American Heroes Café. Sharon and I have now transformed a storage area into a humble yet fascinating area to honor veterans of all wars. The café is decorated with nostalgic posters and all things patriotic. Veterans bring mementos of their service days, donated magazines, books and most importantly, their stories. Each month, a local veterans group is invited to showcase the activities of their membership and we have also made special arrangements for Field of Honor and remembrance days such as 9/11, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
But what makes this American Heroes Café special is that we all have a shared place to care about each other and to thank those who deserve our thanks the most. Every single person who has passed through the café has left a special mark on all of us. And we all consider the Café our “other home”.
Mary E. Domes with Sharon Janusz