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John and Annie grew up in Brookfi eld,


a Milwaukee suburb, the two oldest in a family of fi ve children, and were very fa- miliar with Door County, going back to the early 1960s. John recalls that Annie, the three younger kids and their mother spent many summers living on a boat at Alibi Dock in Fish Creek, “back in the day when JJ was fl ipping hamburgers in a little shack on the dock.” (T at’s the same JJ who now owns popular restaurants in Sister Bay and Jacksonport.)


Annie has lived in Door County for


John Seiberlich and Annie Alberts, owners of Top Shelf Cafe and Gourmet.


the product lines. T eir shelves and cool- ers are fi lled with hard-to-fi nd ingredi- ents for cuisines native to China, Greece, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, the Middle East, Scandinavia and T ailand.


Virginia Olson of Sister Bay was a customer of the shop long before John and Annie bought it and changed the name. She loves Top Shelf because it provides big city service with a friendly Door County touch. “T ey’re on a fi rst- name basis with customers,” she says. “One of the things I like most is their meat. [Annie was hand-cutting some fi - lets for her that day.] T ey have lovely fi sh, a nice wine selection, and, oh, the cheese! T e gorgonzola-stuff ed olives are my favorites.”


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years, working as an emergency medical technician, operating a catering busi- ness, cooking at the White Gull Inn, T e Cookery and T e English Inn and, for a time, running Annie’s Corner Café on Country Walk’s lower level. She also coaches a number of girls’ sports at Gi- braltar High School.


John spent 23 years with IBM, includ-


ing fi ve years in England. He traveled ex- tensively in Europe and the Middle East, providing him opportunities to appreci- ate the food and wine of many cultures.


“I had a background in business, and


Annie knew the food industry,” John says. “When I left IBM, we were inter- ested in starting a small business of some kind, and this seemed to be the perfect spot. We were very close growing up and work together well, and our diff erent tal- ents complement one another perfectly. I believe that’s responsible for the success we’ve had.”


Top Shelf is a multi-faceted business.


T e shop is busy with walk-in custom- ers. (T e interview for this story, sched- uled mid-afternoon on a T ursday in late August, was interrupted often as John rang up orders for top-of-the line cigars, wine, cheese and other gourmet selections, as well as made sandwiches for people dining on the spacious, tree- shaded deck.)


“My customer base,” John says, “are


people with second homes in the county and those who live on boats in the vari- ous marinas. T ere are so many who come in two or three times a week and spend $60 or $70 or $80 for a bottle of fi ne wine and the other ingredients for a special meal.”


Speaking of wine, John mentions that


he personally selects every brand he pur- chases from 10 suppliers and is familiar with the taste of many of them so that he can recommend the perfect bottle for each customer.


John slices meat, cheese and fresh-


baked breads for made-to-order sand- wiches and can add a variety of salads – all, like the bread – prepared daily in the shop’s spacious kitchen. “We roast the sirloin in 30-pound pieces,” he says. “You can really taste the diff erence when it’s sliced fresh. And every ingredient in the salads is cooked on site.”


Service at Top Shelf is friendly and personalized. For a customer seeking


Winter 2011/2012 Door County Living 65


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