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A gathering place for Canton residents

Fri, Jan 27th, 2012
Posted in All Progress Edition

Dustin Zafft, Vernon Zafft, and Jenny Kleppe can be found at TJ's Cafe in Canton.

Along the highway outside of Canton there is a place to fuel up your vehicle, as well as eat a good meal. For the last four years, TJ's Café has been not only a convenient place to stop on your way through town, but also a place for local people to meet and socialize. They have recently extended their hours for Friday night fish dinner.

Jenny Kleppe leases the building from Preston Dairy and Farm, who runs the feed store in the back. It was almost four years ago when she worked with her husband, who is a logger. She used to come to Canton for lunch, and when the restaurant closed down, she considered reopening it with her friend Tammy.

For the last two years, it has been just Kleppe running the show, with the help of employees Vernon Zafft, Dustin Zafft, and Melissa Manhart. She admits that sometimes it gets crazy, but she is having a lot of fun.

"If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't still be here," said Kleppe.

According to Kleppe, they have received a lot of business on Fridays since extending their hours. During the week they see a lot of farmers come in for breakfast and lunch, and a lot of regular visitors who like to drink coffee, play dice games, and visit with friends.

TJ's Café also provides the Canton Senior Dining meals. Kleppe said there are eight people in Canton they deliver meals to, and up to ten people choose to dine at the restaurant.

Kleppe said Preston Dairy and Farm has hay sales on Mondays, which gives them a lot of business on those days. They have also seen an increase in customers since the Canton Pub stopped serving lunches Monday through Thursday.

The café also serves as a convenience store. "We sell a little bit of everything," said Kleppe. There is even Amish woodwork collectibles sold there, made by local Amish residents.

"I enjoy coming here every day," said Kleppe. "I have great help, and the customers are great. They really appreciate that we are here."

Kleppe lives north of Decorah by North Winneshiek School with her husband and three children. TJ's Café is now open from 5-8 p.m. on Friday nights.

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