There is an old saying: “Cream always rises to the top.” Phil and Chantel Powell, husband and wife owners of Cream & Sugar Cafe, which recently opened in the heart of Austin at 5840 W. Madison, are hoping that’s true.

The Austin African American Business Networking Association (AAABNA) held an after-work social May 27 at the cafe as a way to promote and feature this new business. Malcolm Crawford, director of the association, and his members are hands-on when it comes to supporting and encouraging African-American business. Through their networking and support many Austin businesses have been brought to the community’s attention. One example is Western Skins owner Renny D. Smith, who was on hand showing his support for Cream & Sugar Cafe. “This type of support and networking is exactly what we strive for,” said Crawford, noting the many business owners on hand for this social gathering.

Cream & Sugar Cafe is not your ordinary eatery. It aims to be a unique specialty cafe. From cappuccino to panini sandwiches, Cream & Sugar hopes to appeal to changing tastes.

We asked this creative couple how they got started. Phil replied, “It was part of real estate interest, and it was an opportunity we saw and went with it. It has become bigger than we expected, and we’re still growing. We expect to expand in size in square footage at least within the next six months to a year.

“We did a lot of research and homework on our own. We started off without any loans from any banks, so we’re really proud of ourselves for that. And we basically have an opportunity to provide jobs for our family members without them having to go through the process of being turned down, since jobs are so hard right now. The availability is there, and we can provide somebody with a good earning later on down the line.”

Chantel said, “Our specialty here would be our blended drinks. One of our employees truly enjoyed creating new drinks, so we allowed her ‘free flow’ to let her creative talents soar. We currently have a new drink which she is creating, and we’re trying to come up with a name for it. It’s a Thai-Chai drink that she came up with, that we’ll be introducing over the summer.”

Phil added, “[We offer] the two major specialty coffee makers in the USA today. We basically use the same suppliers, so we have the same quality. Espresso and the same quality coffee beans and my wife’s cousins worked at these companies, so they have great experience.

Chantel said they’ve been at this site since August 2004, calling it “a great location. We were both born and raised in the Austin area. We have two boys.” Chantel attended Steinmetz High while Phil attended Taft High.

The Powells pride themselves on their grilled panini sandwich. Phil said, “We have customers who come by twice a day, due to the fact that it is something a little different.” Chantel added, “It is an Italian sandwich, grilled on a special Panini grill. You can have turkey cheese, vegetables, chicken or whatever you desire. Our signature drink is ‘cream & sugar delight.’ It’s an espresso drink with ice cream.”

Phil and Chantel pride themselves on having quality products. Besides the cafe, they also offer poetry reading for children and adults?”every second and fourth Friday of the month for adults and every first Saturday of the month for children, age 5-12. Teenagers 13 and up are featured every Thursday. Phil and Chantel said the children are absolutely adorable and really love doing their poems. They love it, it’s often funny, and it is free.

In the future, the Powell’s plan is to sell products, and already they’ve had several request for T-shirts. A sample of the Cream & Sugar menu follows:

?Coffee, Bagels, Panini Sandwiches

?Cappuccino, Danishes, Roast Beef

?Latte Cinnamon Rolls, Turkey

?Specialty Drinks: Caramel Sunrise, Very Lite Berry White, Cafe’ Frappe’ and Italian Soda

Cream & Sugar Cafe is located at 5840 W. Madison, open Monday through Saturday, 6 a.m.-6 p.m.; 773/261-CAFE.

The Austin African American Business Networking Association welcomes new members; contact them at 5840 W. Chicago Ave., 773/626-4506.