A new family-owned café and market is set to open in Lawrence this summer, serving treats from all over South America — specifically Río de la Plata cuisine, based in Uruguay and Argentina.
Married couple and co-owners Mathias and Gloria Jaime have always been surrounded by a love of food and are excited to be opening La Celeste soon.
La Celeste — eponymous with the common name for Uruguay’s national men’s fútbol team — will sell freshly made bakery items and imported goods, such as dulce de leche, masitas (assorted tea cookies), alfajores (soft cookies filled with dulce de leche), yerba mate and more, according to the café and market’s website.
Mathias was born in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1993. He moved to the United States when he was 17 to finish high school, but he ended up staying and living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for several years. There, he met his wife and now business partner, Gloria.
Mathias has worked in many professional kitchens, working fine dining as well as events with renowned chefs, like Daniel Boulud, Curtis Stone, Nigella Lawson and others, and Gloria has had years of experience in the food industry as a server, bartender and barista.
They’re now combining their professional skills with their love for family gatherings — where there’s lots of home cooking — to bring something new to the area.
Mathias said he’s excited to share the food he grew up with — the food his grandma used to make.
“There isn’t really anything in town anywhere similar to that — not even really in the region as well,” Mathias said. “There are a couple places in Kansas City … What I wanted to do is more like a market grocery type of thing and then have some pastries as well.”
When the couple moved to Lawrence, where some family members already lived, they quickly fell in love with the college town and decided they wanted to stay a while, Mathias said. As they raise their 4-year-old son, Santiago, here, they want to dig their roots further by owning and operating their first business.
“Lawrence is really a decent sized city, but it doesn’t feel like it,” Mathias said. “It feels like a small town, but you can find everything you would in a bigger city. It also feels like a really nice place to raise a child.”
Though they haven’t found a storefront that’s quite right for them yet, Mathias said they hope to get La Celeste up and running with local delivery orders by summertime. Customers will be able to order both South American imported goods and homemade pastries online to be delivered until the physical store is ready.
Sweet and savory treats in addition to coffee drinks and desserts are found on La Celeste’s menu. Individual items range between 50 cents and $8. Mathias said his and Santiago’s favorite item, hands down, is the ham and cheese empanada, which is a Uruguayan staple.
The full menu is available now for viewing on the website, lacelestelfk.com.
The best way to keep up with updates on La Celeste’s progress as well as participate in giveaways is to follow its Facebook page, Mathias said. People can also subscribe on the website to receive a newsletter via email.
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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.