Coffee’s Ready! Q&A w/ Anna Pitts of Anna’s on the Lake

Coffee’s Ready! Q&A w/ Anna Pitts of Anna’s on the Lake

Many people were devastated when Common Grounds shut their doors last fall. But the building, set overlooking our gorgeous harbor, would not sit still for long. Anna’s on the Lake, 5159 Sixth Ave., took all the great things everyone loves in a coffee shop such as delectable drinks and tasty sandwiches, but they are also stepping things up – be sure to take advantage of their three-tiered outside deck while the weather is still nice. Enjoy a cocktail out back on at their weekend bar overlooking this million dollar view!

Q. Can you share a bit about your background and what inspired you to start a coffee shop?

A. In 2019, I started working for my cousin Laura who opened up The Fresh Bar in Downtown Kenosha. I never really considered opening a coffee shop until we were approached by Rose, the owner of the building. At first, I was hesitant because I knew how much of an undertaking it would be but after thinking about it and some more of my family members coming on board, we decided to take the leap.

Q. What unique vision or concept did you have in mind when you opened your coffee shop?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. We wanted to keep this building a place everyone could visit since it is in such a prime spot. My sister and I loved to travel and visit different coffee shops and we found the best ones had the same things in common: it was clean, had a simple menu, and the people were friendly, which is what we strive for. The unique location is what stands out the most, we let the location itself do the talking.

Q. What went into creating your coffee drink menu?

A. We didn’t want to go crazy with our menu. We really wanted to stick to the basics and make sure everything was of high quality. We loved this roaster in Milwaukee called Valentine and knew we wanted to work with them right away because they’re a fairly smaller coffee roaster that really knows how to make a quality product.

Photo by Donny Stancato

Q. How do you create a diverse and appealing menu that caters to a wide range of customers’ preferences?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. Given our kitchen size, we really wanted to stick to the basics for our menu. Keep it small, but have fresh and quality ingredients. We also make sure to include those with specific dietary needs offering gluten-free, vegetarian, and dairy-free options. We may not have a huge menu but every item is of quality and can cater to all with certain dietary needs.

Q. What efforts do you make to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere for your customers?

A. Definitely taking the time to get to know as many names as possible who are walking through the doors. It starts with the owners being present as much as they can and taking the time to walk around to get to know the community and passing that along to the employees as much as possible.

Q.  What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a coffee shop owner, and how have you overcome them?

A. I think the biggest challenge with any new business is really being here all of the time to make sure everything is going smoothly. We have been really lucky though with our amazing staff who really makes coming to work every day easy and who have stuck with us as we’ve learned what system works best for us to provide our customers with the best service possible.

Photo by Donny Stancato

Q. What are the most rewarding aspects of running Anna’s on the Lake for you?

A. For me, it’s really being able to witness the relationships that have been built between our staff and regulars. Yes, it’s great to hear that people are enjoying what we’ve done with the space. But, for me, it’s a really nice feeling when our staff and customers are on a first-name basis and enjoy talking about more than just their coffee order.

Q. How has the first year in business treated you?

A. It’s been great! Definitely a lot of hard work and hours put in, but it’s been wonderful getting to know every customer who has come through our door and the relationships we’ve been able to build with our staff.

Q. What makes Anna’s on the Lake stand out from all the other coffee shops in the area?

A. We’re lucky in that we really do have some great local coffee shops in town. I think the thing that really makes us stand out is our amazing location and our amazing staff.

Q.  What is the number one seeker coffee wise?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. The chai!

Q. What is your personal favorite drink and sandwich?

A. Iced dirty chai with oat milk and favorite sandwich is definitely the turkey pesto.

Q. You have one of the best staffs, what can you tell us about them?

Photo by Donny Stancato

A. We truly have been so lucky to have the staff we do. Truly grateful to have some originals that were at Common Grounds like Rennie, who mostly everyone recognizes. We even have some old friends who work with us like Nika who truly has an interest in seeing us succeed. I think the key is we genuinely like to be around each other which makes it easier to come to work. They know when to laugh and they know when they need to hustle. We’ve started this business on basically hand picking who was familiar to us and who we thought could start us off on a strong note. Which we are so fortunate that most people who have been with us have been since the beginning. We truly couldn’t do it without every single one of them.

Phot by Donny Stancato

Q.  Was there any pressure on taking over the Harborside Common Grounds building?

A. There was definitely pressure taking over such an iconic spot. We loved Common Grounds so our goal when opening was to really keep the space feel familiar but also new at the same time. I think some of the additions and changes we’ve made really reflect that.

Q.  Please tell us about the beautiful AirBnb you have available above the coffee shop?

A. There are two units available upstairs with some pretty spectacular views! You can find a link to them on our website

Q.  What advice would you give someone wanting to open their own coffee shop?

A. It’s a lot of hard work, but if you find the right people it can definitely be a fun place to come to work every day!

Q.  What do you love about owning a business in Downtown Kenosha?

A. I think what’s so nice about our downtown community is that everybody truly wants to see each other succeed. It’s been so nice getting to know not only other downtown business owners but also those who choose to support our local business.

Q.  What is next for Anna’s on the Lake?

A. With the summer winding down, we’re looking forward to some lovely crisp autumn days ahead where you can still enjoy our deck and its pretty amazing views. We like to take things one day at a time over here, but I can guarantee we’ll be serving great coffee with great views.

Q&A and photos by Donny Stancato • Edited by Jason Hedman

Anna’s on the Lake is located at 5159 6th Aveune
Follow Anna’s on the Lake on Facebook CLICK HERE & on Instagram CLICK HERE
Learn more about Anna by listening to her appearance on the Ktown Connects Podcast
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Check out the current Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine CLICK HERE
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(This article first appeared in Vol 16. #3 2023 Go Downtown Kenosha Magazine)