Mermaid Cafe owner Lisa Jacobson with her daughter, Hazel.
For those mourning the loss of the Mermaid Cafe, whose last day was Friday, there is one bright note. Owner Lisa Jacobson promises to provide the recipe for its beloved vegetarian Banh Mi sandwich via email (Mermaidcafemadison@gmail.com) to anyone who asks.
“I just want to wait and send it all out at one time,” says Jacobson, who says the proportions will be “more for home use.”
Jacobson says she ran out of the house marinated and baked lemongrass tofu that anchors the sandwich on Thursday, because there was such a run on the specialty, which also features daikon carrot slaw, cucumbers, and cilantro on a toasted baguette. She was preparing a final batch Friday morning. The cafe also offered a Banh Mi with slow roasted pork, as well as inventive breakfast sandwiches (“Oh Mighty Isis” — eggs, cheddar, avocado and tomato slathered with coconut curry aioli), salads, soups and coffee drinks, all made with local ingredients.
The Mermaid Cafe opened in 2005 at 1929 Winnebago St. Business was already brisk by 9 a.m. Friday with regulars coming in to say farewell and savor a favorite dish or drink for the last time. Jacobson delivered a cup of coffee in a chipped blue mug to regular Bill Stahl, noting, “He’s the only one with his own mug here.”
Stahl’s friend, who asked not to be identified, had greeted Jacobson earlier with congratulations, as well as a plaintive plea. “This is a crisis though. Where are us neighborhood folks going to go?”
Jacobson says her plans for the future are still up in the air but is looking forward to spending time with her family. She says she will also be involved in some way with the hotel and cafe her brother is developing on Baldwin Street: “There’s no way I wouldn’t be involved at least as a consultant.”