More Than Just Coffee - Williams Fresh Cafe: A treat for Everyday
Williams Fresh Cafe is not just about coffee.
The restaurant chain was founded in Stratford in 1993 as Williams Coffee Pub with one shop that focused on great coffee and treats. (It was named for William Shakespeare with the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in the same city.) It has morphed into a place for breakfast, lunch and dinner with 50 locations in Ontario "There's been an evolution,"
"We still have great coffee, cappuccino and espresso. We're moving into more of a fast casual approach. You have healthier alternatives and more options than just a coffee shop."
There are four locations in London, including an express kiosk at the University of Western Ontario, each with a different owner.
And when it comes to express, you can still go to the drive-thru to pick up your meal.
Some of the old signage may still be around, but customers will find the new approach, and menus, in all franchise locations, said Lauren McColeman, the Williams' field marketing manager.
In re-branding, owners wanted customers who have been loyal all these years to know they can expect the same goods and service, just with more choice.
"The word 'cafe', even though it says good coffee, it says food as well,"
Williams also caters and markets itself as a meeting place because it has free Wi-Fi, which has been available for several years now.
Kids aren't forgotten, either. There is a kids' menu, offering peanut butter and jam sandwiches to grilled cheese.
Williams changes its menu about five times a year and right now is offering holiday fare.
From the seasonal favourite of Sweet Red Pepper Soup to Wintermint Tea Latte to Strawberry Dessert Crepe and holiday cookies, there are plenty of comfort foods.
We recently tried the Grilled Chicken Panini cooked on artisan ciabatta and the Spinach, Apple and Gorgonzola Salad, which mixes tart and sweet in a healthy dish.
This week, Williams Fresh Cafe has also started its 12 Days of Fresh Gift Giving, which runs until Dec. 24.
Costing from $15 to $25, the shops are offering gift baskets that include coffee, a mug, holiday cookies and biscotti.
Gift cards are available in any denomination. With the purchase of a $20 card, you will receive a complimentary latte.
Williams is also making plans for a new menu in the new year.
"It's going to be a fresh take on buffalo chicken," said McColeman.
It will be sliced chicken dipped in buffalo wing sauce, placed in a wrap and topped with carrots and celery.
On the sweet side, William's has always been known for its desserts and they're still offering lots of choice.
They have more than 20 cakes, brownies, magic bars and seasonal treats.
The red velvet cake is a luxuriant choice. It's a chocolate layered cake filled with cream cheese icing.
Sounds like a great way to end a meal.
Originaly printed in the London Free Press by Kathy Rumleski Free Press Reporter, December 15, 2010