Customers enjoy brunch at Blue Sky Cafe in Bethlehem on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015. The cafe has been a staple for students and locals alike. (Meg Kelly/B&W Photo)

Blue Sky Café switches management, retains menu options

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It’s been said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and for years, Blue Sky Café has responded to this with delicious, creative morning and midday meals right off campus.

Located on the South Side of Bethlehem since 2007, Blue Sky is constantly creating original recipes. The luncheonette boasts a comfortable atmosphere allowing it to be a popular place for Lehigh students.

As of early September, Blue Sky has shifted over to new management.

Tabitha Petrecz, the former owner of eight years, posted on Blue Sky’s Facebook account that she is “pleased to announce that Blue Sky in Bethlehem has been sold.”

The three new owners are Dereck Wallen, Chris Topping and Shelli Topping. Shelli has worked at the café for over a year as a full-time server and will continue with this position despite the added responsibility.

“(Petrecz) was looking to do something else and Chris and I have always said that we wanted to own a restaurant,” Wallen said.

Wallen and Chris, who have known each other for years, had both been involved in the service industry before. Wallen worked at a catering company, followed by a restaurant, while Chris was employed as a sous chef. Shelli also has experience within the industry and her time spent at Blue Sky will prove to be an asset as she steps up into the management role.

The Blue Sky Cafe in Bethlehem, seen here on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, is a popular spot for both students and locals. The cafe, a staple for many South Side residents, also has another location in Easton. (Meg Kelly/B&W Photo)

The Blue Sky Cafe in Bethlehem, seen here on Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, is a popular spot for both students and locals. The cafe, a staple for many South Side residents, also has another location in Easton. (Meg Kelly/B&W Photo)

Since one of the current partners had already been a part of the Blue Sky family, it was easy for word to spread that the former owner was looking for people with a creative vision to take over. Once Shelli heard that the former owner had interest in pursuing another career, she quickly informed her husband and Wallen of the opportunity the three could take advantage of. After arranging a formal sit-down, the past and current management teams worked everything out and came together to reach an agreement.

“We said that we’d pick up something having to do with a restaurant if the right opportunity came along — and it did,” Wallen said. “We’ve always loved Blue Sky, we like the staff, we’re from the area. Overall it was a good fit.”

The three current partners were initially attracted to the South Side because of its up-and-coming reputation.

“Looking around, you see a lot of growth all around the area,” Wallen said. “The opportunity we had with Blue Sky was immense. It’s a very well known and popular luncheonette. With the rise of the area and popularity of the café, we know it will be a continual success.”

Despite the switch in ownership, Blue Sky will predominantly remain untouched. Wallen said the menu will be consistent although specials might change.

Despite the fact that the new owners will be keeping the majority of the menu the same, they will undoubtedly add some of their own unique creations.

“Blue Sky is known for its seasonal signature dishes and that’s a tradition we will definitely continue,” Wallen said.

One key factor that makes Blue Sky unique is its tight-knit familial community. Staff and regular customers maintain a friendly relationship, which is why it was important for the current owners to agree on keeping all former staff as is.

“I’m excited about the change in ownership,” Gina Masotco, one of the café’s servers, said. “It’s comforting to know that the Blue Sky brand will remain within our initial family.”

Petrecz commented on the eatery’s Facebook page that almost everything will remain untouched adding “why fix something that isn’t broken?”

Lehigh students will feel at ease knowing that one of their favorite brunch spots is staying faithful to its roots.

“It’s nice to see a shift in ownership,” Laura McNeill, ’16, said. “It shows a change with the times and I’m sure that the new, young owners will keep the Blue Sky image fun and welcoming.”

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