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Syl’s Café: three generations of women owners

Syl's Café
Syl's Café(Annette Giachino)
Published: May. 8, 2022 at 4:20 PM EDT
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ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - Pasties and donuts are two popular items at the family-owned Syl’s Café in Ontonagon.

It has been passed down through three generations of women and was first opened in 1972. The current owner, Kathy Wardynski, says she follows the original recipes of her grandmother, who first opened the café.

“It is very neat to be able to go into a recipe book back there and follow recipes that are still written in my grandmother’s handwriting,” said Wardynski.

Wardynski says that everything from homemade bread to basic soup recipes were passed down to her, although she did have to make a few adjustments.

“My grandma had recipes, but she didn’t actually follow them. So, the first thing that I had to do when I took the restaurant over was write the recipes over with what she put in it. We had a Molasses cookie recipe where she said it was four cups of flour but actually it was four heaping cups.”

The recipes are extremely popular amongst Ontonagon residents, who appreciate the authenticity of the restaurant.

“This has been an institution in this community for so many years and for generations. Each generation is just wonderful,” said customer Lois Gregory.

This June 1 will mark the 50th anniversary for the café. Wardynski also says that it has been an honor for her to continue what her grandmother started.

“She only went to school through eighth grade and was able to start a business like this that has been able to carry on for almost 50 years. It’s a proud thing for me to be able to follow in her footsteps.”

Wardynski is in the process of opening another business called the Squeeze on Main, it will be juice and smoothie bar. She plans to follow her family’s tradition and pass it down to her daughters.

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