Tru Cafe

Good times, good food, and good luck abound at Kearney's Tru Cafe.

Marc and Roberta Loescher opened Tru Cafe in 2010 after running an antique store. The downtown Kearney store is a destination for art lovers and foodies.

Christopher Amundson

(This story originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine)

ROBERTA Loescher thought scoring a huge table with 13 chairs at an auction for only $2.50 was truly good luck. Nobody was bidding, so to get the sale going, Roberta raised her hand. Being the only bidder meant she ended up with the set.

“But when it came time to load everything up, my husband, Marc, would only let me bring 12 of the chairs home,” Roberta said. “He thought buying 13 chairs was bad luck.”

About the same time, a yoga studio in Kearney’s business district was relocating, and Elements coffee shop next to it was going out of business, leaving an empty corner in an otherwise vibrant downtown Kearney.

Roberta and Marc’s daughter, Jessica, had been looking for a unique building for her hair salon dream. While on their way to a birthday party several hours away and joined by Jessica’s sister, Aubrey Cruise, the family crunched the numbers of buying both buildings, intermittently consulting over the phone with Marc, who was back in Kearney running the family antique store.

The family bought the building and decided they would open a cafe on one side and a salon for Jessica on the other. They would call the restaurant Tru Cafe.

Tru Cafe’s philosophy is to “eat healthy and keep yourself healthy,” Roberta said. It offers a menu written on a large black
board that’s packed with natural and organic breakfast and lunch items made fresh every morning.

Jessica’s fiance, Nick Keizer, a selftaught welder, took time away from rebuilding his 1986 Harley-Davidson Sportster to make the mirror frames and front desk for Jessica’s salon, which they named EVO Salon after Harley-Davidson’s popular Evolution engine.

“This salon is just a rad place where people can hang out and feel comfortable whether you are male or female,” Jessica said.

He also created the coat racks, tables and tool holders that hold hair dryers, curling irons and scissors. Some of the items were designed on a computer and cut on a plasma table. Others were cut, bent and finished by hand.

The family business plan was for Roberta to run the cafe with help from Aubrey, a nurse, when she wasn’t working at the hospital, and for Jessica to run the salon while Marc tended the antique store across town. But eventually they closed the shop, Antiques and Castaways.

Now they focus on the cafe, roasted coffee, gifts, music and visual arts that developed when a student from the University of Nebraska at Kearney came into the store, practically in tears. The student had arranged with the building’s previous owner to have an art show in the building. She was truly surprised when she arrived to set it up to find that new owners had set up shop. Through sobs and tears she explained her situation to Roberta, who replied, “So what? Go ahead and have an art show.”

Now oil paintings, watercolors, metal sculpture, pottery, woodwork and other mediums rotate monthly through Tru Cafe’s two galleries.

“Until we opened the galleries, I had no idea that we have so many talented, quality artists in the area,” Roberta said. To add more variety to the thriving art scene, the cafe stays open late each Thursday and Friday evening so local musicians can entertain the crowd with music that spills like a dropped latte out the front door and onto Central Avenue’s brick streets.

As Linda Blakely walks in the door, she already knows what she’s having for lunch, and so does Roberta, who simply asks,“The usual?”

It brings a nod and a smile from Blakely. “I’d like to try some of the other things from the menu,” Blakely said. “I want to, but I’m addicted to the apple and cheese wrap, so that’s what I always get.”

Backpack-clad college students with dangling ear buds stream in before, between and after classes. Old friends meet at Tru Cafe for lunch and to catch up over a meal in which the ketchup is organic, too.

Cafe customers migrate into the salon, and vice versa, looking at art, purchasing items from Tru Cafe’s small gift shop and inventory of organic grocery items, or trying the selection of gourmet teas and coffees. One of the most popular coffee creations is the Nebraska Blend, a mixture of Indonesian and Central American coffee beans roasted by Marc in the back of the store.

Patrons have been known to come in for breakfast and leave with a brand new hairdo, too. Even the hair stylists take a break to walk next door for lunch between perms and haircuts.

As the sun sets on Kearney and Tru Cafe, and as a cowboy tunes his guitar, people of all ages shuffle in around the tables, none of which matches the others. One looks like it came out of an old roadside cafe. A booth is upholstered to look like the interior of a ’57 Chevy.

The big wooden table with its dozen chairs is there, too, complete with an empty place at the far end.

But Tru Cafe is full of customers, friends and family. It appears leaving that 13th chair behind was good luck after all. So true.

(This story originally appeared in the November/December 2012 issue of Nebraska Life Magazine)

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