Priscah Norton’s Stoughton cafe serves food from many cultures and supports the local community
Priscah Norton opened Coffee4All Bistro Cafe on March 28, 2022, realizing her dream to open a coffee shop and to cook for her community. Norton moved to Wisconsin from Kenya 15 years ago, became a U.S. citizen, and married Ray Norton in 2014. Shortly after that, Norton fell seriously ill with Scleroderma, and Priscah Norton quit her job to stay home and care for him. When she had free time, she baked and sold pastries, which reignited her passion for cooking and baking. She had worked as a pastry chef in Kenya and decided she wanted to expand on that. Her home baking business took off and became so successful that she needed a larger kitchen and more preparation, storage, and retail space, so in 2020, she decided to open a café. Her husband urged her on, even as his health declined.
In April of 2021, a friend referred Norton to the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Wisconsin School of Business (SBDC). She worked with business consultant Amy Bruner Zimmerman. Bruner Zimmerman worked with Norton for several months to develop her business plan and projections for a bank loan. Bruner Zimmerman provided business plan reviews, pulled market research reports, and provided Norton with general lending education. The SBDC regularly helps entrepreneurs understand the documentation and level of detail requested by lenders.
“After Amy took a look at my business plan, she was able to let me know what I needed to add to be able to convince the financial institute about my plan to open a coffee shop,” says Norton. “The consulting experience helped me to gain new business skills like knowing my numbers and being able to balance orders and keep track of our sales balance.”
“Priscah is quite a force,” says [SBDC Consultant] Amy Bruner Zimmerman. “It’s so impressive that she had the courage to continue to move forward, despite the significant challenges she faced in her personal life.”
Norton secured financing from the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC).
Bruner Zimmerman and Norton also discussed a name for the coffee shop that would be simple and memorable for customers. Norton researched and brainstormed names before landing on Coffee4All Bistro as the perfect name for her business.
As the cafe’s opening date approached, Norton’s neighbor, Rick Hammes, who had helped her sell pastries from home, agreed to come on board as café manager. And then tragedy struck–Ray Norton passed away on December 27, 2021. Priscah Norton decided to work through her grief and open the café in his memory, and Coffee4All opened the following March, at 2300 US-51, inside the Stoughton Wellness & Athletic Center. The café sells coffee, tea, and sandwiches for breakfast and lunch, and it also includes Swahili pastries, samosas, kaimati, and mahamri, baked in-house using Norton’s family recipes.
Norton has three employees and hopes to bring on a fourth by the end of 2022. She starts employees at $15/hour. She is also hoping to increase her customers to hit 100% capacity in the next three to four months. To get the word out, she is using Facebook and newspaper advertisements and providing discount coupons at local events.
“My long-term vision is to expand and have more branches in the next five to ten years, so that we can reach other towns easily,” Norton says. “Every bit of advice I got from Amy, I took and followed through. We have loyalty cards for our daily customers; we have increased our menu with sandwiches; and that has helped us in getting more traffic in the coffee shop.”
Coffee4All recently held a fundraiser for Ukraine, as well as a well-attended Ukrainian dinner. Norton’s deep understanding of life’s challenges and empathy for others makes her uniquely placed to support her community, and Coffee4All is meant to be a community gathering place.
“Priscah is quite a force,” says Bruner Zimmerman. “It’s so impressive that she had the courage to continue to move forward, despite the significant challenges she faced in her personal life.”