The History of us
Owners Adria and Mike Buzek began their food service adventures starting from different points in the industry.
Adria began in Akron University’s culinary arts program, spent a season supervising a production kitchen at Cedar Point making huge batches of carnival favorites, then gained pastry and baking experience working in the bakery at local Acme #1. Their paths crossed when Adria joined the team of a local caterer where Mike was working.
Mike’s food service adventure began – of all places – at the zoo! As a summer volunteer at the Akron zoo Mike loved to see how happy everyone was to get to the food stand at the top of the park to get ice cream and other food treats. After convincing his family to join the adventure – and with no prior experience – Mike purchased a food concession trailer. After a season of learning the ups and downs of mobile food concessions, Mike landed an entry-level prep cook position with the 50’s and 60’s themed Bumpers Restaurant in the Portage Lakes. From there Mikes culinary journey progressed when he joined a local catering business and eventually met Adria.
Their career paths separated temporarily as Adria left the catering company to work at East Side Mario’s at Chapel Hill. Mike eventually left the catering company to take a grill chef position with Romano’s Macaroni Grill in Montrose. Eventually Adria also joined the Macaroni Grill family in Montrose. Adria & Mike married, and their journey together continued…
Adria and Mike’s careers again parted ways when Adria left Macaroni Grill to take a management position with Steak & Shake – however the 3rd shift schedule was not the most enjoyable. Adria then left the food service industry to run an online business and start a family with Mike.
As Mike’s time progressed with Macaroni Grill he became Executive Chef in Montrose, transferred to Canton as Executive Chef to open that store, and then became the General Manager of the Canton location.
While Mike was still with Macaroni Grill, the pair started their next food service adventure together – The Culinary Chameleon – Catering & Café. Opened in the basement of the Akron Federal Building, this low volume operation was a challenge to get up and running while caring for small children and dealing with Mike’s hectic schedule at Macaroni Grill.
The pair spent months working opposite shifts, caring for kids, taking turns at the shop and balancing catering events and deliveries. As the business grew they realized it was time to hire someone to handle the increased business or Mike would need to leave Macaroni Grill to focus on the café & catering full time. After 14 years and with a tearful ciao – Mike turned the page and left his Italian family.
As a hidden gem … in the basement of the federal building – The Culinary Chameleon grew daily cafe and local catering business. A recurring comment from daily cafe patrons venturing in from outside the building was that getting through security at lunch time was challenging with a short window of time available for lunch. The Chameleon team weighed the options of opening another location in the Akron area, or starting a food truck to take their menu and catering offerings mobile.
About Chameleon Cafe Akron
In the spring of 2016 the cafe space directly across the street from their existing location became available. As it was an existing cafe in operation – it seemed a great fit for a quick open. This became the start of Adria & Mike’s 2nd culinary adventure together – The Chameleon Cafe Akron. A locally owned coffee shop and cafe with a casual, quirky and relaxing vibe, serving unique and delicious coffee, beverages and food.
Given the lack of exhaust hood system in the new cafe space – Adria, Mike, and The Culinary Chameleon team had to be creative and flexible in designing a menu that would provide a unique variety of food options while utilizing minimal industrial cooking equipment found in most restaurants. The menu is in flux based on popularity, seasonality of ingredients, and ease of execution with the equipment that is being utilized.
With creativity the Chameleon team is producing unique and delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and wraps on a weekday daily basis. Over time their family, friends and kids have also participated at various stages of the business growth – most happily as taste testers!
Whether you are relaxing with a coffee and surfing the net in Chameleon Café Akron, grabbing a burger & fries in the federal building café, or enjoying the benefits of The Culinary Chameleon’s catering services – Adria, Mike and the entire Chameleon team enjoy providing their guests great friendship and hospitality around a beautiful and delicious meal. Thank you for choosing a local, family owned business for your food service needs.