If you want caramel drizzle on top of your combination of Fruity Pebbles and Cocoa Puffs, all you have to do is ask.
That’s what the future looks like in Louisville with the impending grand opening of The Cereal Box, a “cereal cafe” concept local fitness trainer and entrepreneur Eric Richardson has been working on for four years. An opening date is still pending final health permits, but the first-time restaurant owner says it will be “very soon.”
The Highlands resident wanted something in the Highlands in part because of proximity to his home, but also in part because it just seemed like a good fit in the neighborhood. This finally led him to the roughly 700-square-foot space at 612 Baxter Ave., next door to Spinelli’s Pizza.
“I knew it was something different and quirky enough that it would work in the Highlands,” he says of the cereal concept, adding, “There are so many things you can do with cereal that I had never seen or heard of.”
But he had ideas – plenty of them – and they go well beyond just a caramel swirl on top. At The Cereal Box, you will be able to choose from one of 22 cereals (with more to come), and choose from different milks. You can mix and match cereals. You can get fruit toppings and other flavors.
It doesn’t end there. Cereal milkshakes will be a staple at the cafe, along with a variety of cereal treats similar to childhood favorites Rice Krispy Treats. There will be cereal treat ice cream sandwiches. There will be cereal bowls that are actually made of cereal. Heck, he’s even talking about getting really crazy and having Pop-Tart Sundays. Meanwhile, vintage Saturday morning cartoons and shows – “Pee Wee’s Playhouse,” anyone? – will be playing on screens around the place.
“Bowls of cereal is pretty much just where it starts,” Richardson says.
“I’d never seen any of this stuff, but if I had, I’d have gone in” to the restaurant, he adds. “It’s like a little kid’s dream. Now you can get it, and you don’t have to ask your parents.”
He envisions the restaurant, which he is fully funding with his own money, as a generational bridge. Today’s kids eat cereal. Baby boomers ate cereal. Every generation in between ate cereal, most of them while sitting in front of the television with cartoons blaring. Heck, he even says people will be invited to wear their pajamas to the grand opening.
A bowl will cost three or four bucks, and the place will hold 15-20 people, with counter service; there will be additional outside seating when weather permits. The cafe will be open all day, and he is pondering late-night hours on Friday and Saturday, knowing that Spinelli’s draws crowds until 4 a.m. He figures some Highlands revelers might want a lighter bite to help wash off their buzz.
He’s gone as far as planning to try his best to work with cereal companies to bring back some of the vintage cereals of yesteryear, like the long-ago Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtles cereal, or the circus-themed Kaboom.
Part of his initiative to start the concept was a guerilla marketing campaign in which he placed seven-foot-tall prints of cereal boxes around town without alluding to what they meant. The tactic generated some buzz, and one of the signs even was stolen. Cap’n Crunch even got tagged by a graffiti artist.
The Cereal Box hasn’t even opened yet, but already it is getting mainstream media and social media attention. Richardson says he’s had calls from people in other states asking when the grand opening will be.
“I thought it would be a hot spot,” he says, “but I didn’t expect the amount” of attention it is getting.
“Who would have known?” he says with a smile. “Cereal. It’s a product that can stretch across generations.”