This Cudahy family just opened a new 1920s-inspired coffee shop in the city – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

A lifelong Cudahy resident and his family recently filled a void in their community. 

Charleston Cafe, a 1920s-inspired coffee shop, opened at 3467 E. Layton Ave. Aug. 12. 

“(A coffee shop is) something that the city needed and everybody has been wanting and asking for,” said owner Peter Piparo.  

The cafe’s name pays homage to the building’s previous life as the Charleston Hotel back in the 1920s, Piparo said. The building has been in his family since the ’70s. 

The cafe’s menu features coffee, specialty coffee drinks, teas, smoothies, bakery, paninis, sandwiches, wraps, soups, and salads. 

The biggest hit so far has been the cafe’s white chocolate mocha, Piparo said, which has white chocolate, two shots of espresso, and the customer’s choice of milk. 

In addition to dairy milk, the cafe offers milk alternatives, including almond, coconut, soy, and oat. 

Iced mochas at Charleston Cafe in Cudahy cost $4.25 for a medium and $4.75 for a large.

Beverage princes range from $1.45 for a small house coffee or hot tea to $4.85 for a large hot mocha, caramel macchiato or cappuccino. 

Most lunch- and dinner-type food items range from $4.75 to $8.50. The cafe will have vegan and keto-friendly options in the near future. 

Piparo plans to use some of the cafe’s profits to support Prevent Suicide Greater Milwaukee after losing family members to suicide and overdose. 

‘Cudahy deserves it’ 

Piparo, a contractor and carpenter, was originally thinking of putting a flooring store into the space. But his five children, who are in their teens and 20s, convinced him that a coffee shop would be better for the area. 

“Coffee is a big thing for them,” Piparo said. “So, we decided to open it as a family.”

Piparo gave the space an old-timey feel with a penny floor, lots of copper and metals, heavy woods, and a replica street with a miniature vehicle hanging on the wall. Piparo’s daughter, Ashlee, worked with artist Josh Flores to create art for the cafe and its logo. 

“It’s a really extra special place,” Piparo said. “I put my heart and soul into everything I do. So, it turned out really nice. And the city of Cudahy deserves it.”

Piparo said that when he was a kid, Cudahy was “a destination place” for the surrounding areas. 

“It’s dear to my heart and I want other people to come experience some of the things I got to,” he said. “I’d really like to see the city someday be how it was and even more than what it was when I was younger.”

Charleston Cafe in Cudahy has an outdoor seating area with a decorative waterfall.

Charleston Cafe is open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Soon, the hours will be extended to 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

The cafe’s COVID-19 safety precautions, include checking staff members’ temperatures, wearing masks, and cutting its capacity in half. The cafe also offers outdoor patio seating with a decorative waterfall. 

Piparo said he takes these measures seriously because his wife, Brenda, is a “hero,” who works in a long-term care facility, and his parents are in their 90s. 

In a few months, Hair Paint Salon plans to open below the coffee shop, Piparo said. 

Charleston Cafe

ADDRESS: 3467 E. Layton, Cudahy

PHONE: 414-788-2911

WEBSITE: facebook.com/thecharlestoncafe

PRICE RANGE: From $.50 for a banana to $8.50 for the Cuban, the Italian or the chicken pesto sandwich

HOURS: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Soon, the hours will be extended to 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Contact Hannah Kirby at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @HannahHopeKirby.