1358 Williamson St.

Lazy Jane's

Organic/Local Food


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Storied restaurant Ovens of Brittany (morning buns, anyone?) has churned out some of Madison's most significant foodies, from Monty Schiro of Monty's Blue Plate and Food Fight food-dom to Odessa Piper, former chef/proprietor of the famed L'Etoile.

It's also the place where Jane Capito got her start in the business, most notably at the Fordem Avenue Ovens, which she part-owned and ran solo after scaling the food chain from dishwasher to manager at two other Ovens locations. After several more years co-owning local favorites like Botticelli's and the wildly successful Wild Iris Café, Capito decided it was time to live out her dream.

"I always felt in the back of my mind I'd have a little place," says Capito, a social worker by training, which, if you think about it, isn't such a radical career change.

"I really do feel like this nurtures people, physically and mentally," she says of Lazy Jane's, her latest endeavor that's now nearly five years old. "If people aren't happy with things I so want to know that."

That attention to the finer points of both nourishment and nuance belies the irony inherent in the moniker she chose for her restaurant, for this Jane is anything but lazy. Each morning, this whirling dervish of a sixty-two-year-old is up before the roosters, kneading the dough that will soon inhabit the glass case full of irresistible goodies, and otherwise nipping and tucking the charming Willy Street two-story for the business of the day.

Capito is quick to acknowledge that other than the baked goods, she is only the creator and not the cook of the hip and wholesome culinary offerings, most within the $3 to $7 range for generous portions that fill the belly and then some. For breakfast, you'll find healthy choices like oatmeal and granola as well as hungryman entrées like omelets and waffles. For lunch, Capito's east-side sensibilities are evident in the pleasing diversity of hot and cold sandwiches for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

But regardless of whether it's a seitan melt or a pastrami Reuben you desire, what makes Lazy Jane's work most is the simple nature of it all. From the chalkboard menus to the homey, seat-yourself dining rooms to the charming, consignment-store décor, it's the kind of place where you can grab a quick coffee and a coffee-chip scone on your way to wherever, or you can disappear upstairs with a bowl of tomato basil soup and a good book.

And the relaxed, upbeat feel of the place mirrors the easygoing recipes made daily with high-quality ingredients. For instance, the bestselling grilled cheese features Havarti melted over La Brea sourdough white and topped with avocado, red onion and tomatoes. It comes with a basil vinaigrette salad and kettle chips, all for just $6.95. Salads, like the Mediterranean plate and a chef's, ring up to the same reasonable price.

For Capito, restaurants are about more than just the food; they're about the experience you have while you're in her hands. "When I look back on my life, I remember restaurants I went to so vividly," she says, which is probably why so much of her time is spent on cultivating the easy-going personality that Lazy Jane's exudes. While the first floor gives off a friendly neighborhood coffeehouse vibe, the second-floor feels like Grandma's den of antiquities, with wooden tables and chairs in a freshly lit space on one end and sofas, comfy chairs, books and toys on the other. The retro furniture is comfortably mixed in among rugs, bookshelves, lamps, colorful paintings of people and landscapes, and other whimsical thrift-shop treasures.

Capito says she almost called the place Joie de Vivre, meaning "joy of life" in French. Instead she chose a piece of her girlish charm, little of which is lazy but all of which embodies a certain carefree Zen that only a lazy day can bring.



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