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Getting ready to shift gears

The Early Bird

Brooke Fitzgerald, owner of the Early Bird Coffee Cafe, makes coffee drinks on the first day of businee at its new location in the former Smulekof’s building in downtown Cedar Rapids on Nov. 15, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
Brooke Fitzgerald, owner of the Early Bird Coffee Cafe, makes coffee drinks on the first day of businee at its new location in the former Smulekof’s building in downtown Cedar Rapids on Nov. 15, 2016. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)
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People have been stopping by the Early Bird in downtown Cedar Rapids buying gifts for their Secret Santa and thank-yous for clients for the past several weeks, owner Brooke Fitzgerald said.

“Everyone is in a good mood and we feel like we get to be part of the giving to others. It’s just fun,” she said, noting that gift cards and holiday goodie baskets have been very popular.

The downtown coffee shop also stays busy with catering during this time of year. Catering — from boxed lunches corporate clients use for lunch and learns and meetings to outside catering events — keeps the Early Bird’s doors open, Fitzgerald said.

The Early Bird’s resident baker, Kalina McBurney, also creates homemade pumpkin and pecan pies, made from her grandmother’s recipe, that are also big sellers during the holidays.

But once the holidays are over, the staff at the Early Bird knows customers will be thinking about eating a little healthier.

“We change gears after the first of the year and start selling smoothies and salad jars and promoting healthy diets after we’ve all indulged for two months,” Fitzgerald said.

“Customers can come and grab two or three salads in a jar on Monday and then feel good about eating healthy at the office and on the go that week for lunch.”

The Early Bird will offer “meals to go” after the first of the year.

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“These meals will already be prepared and can go right in the crockpot all day or you can just throw them in the oven when you get home so people don’t have to think too hard about being healthy with meals for their families,” she said.

“We’re not just a coffee shop,” she said. “A lot of fun magic happens here, organically. People who stop in for the first time always say it’s so cozy and bright and warm here. It’s very welcoming.”

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