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Our Story

Jim grew up in a family of cooks and restaurateurs. His mother was an outstanding cook and mentor, and "Mom's home-cooking" was well-loved by everyone who knew her. She would bring casseroles and soups to feed everyone (and then some) as they worked renovating the Café in 2010. When he was young, Jim's mom and dad owned and operated a family restaurant in Sioux Falls, SD, and later one in Arkansas called "Our Place" at an Ozark resort. Jim worked as night manager, baker and prep-cook during his formative years. After moving to Vermillion, SD, he became Assistant Director of Food Services for the University of South Dakota Food Service Program, and earned a certificate in management from the University of Nebraska Omaha. After 8 years with the University, he was given the opportunity to manage a local cafe, Mister Smith's Cafe. With his help, the cafe flourished for 8 years, until he left to join Monica in opening his own place, Café Brulé in downtown Vermillion, SD.


Monica has loved baking and travelling ever since she was a child. Her mother, who was also an important mentor, was known as the cake lady at church, work, and among their circle of family and friends. Her father is an Air Force veteran, and as many military families do, they spent the early years of her life living in many different places. Monica studied Sociology, French and later Education at the University of South Dakota. While studying, she spent the better part of a year in Paris, and nearly stayed, but love for her family brought her back home. She received a Master's degree in Teaching and taught French for several years, all while building a family and a cake business! In 1994, at age 24, Monica opened her own business, then called A Piece of Cake in Vermillion. In 2000, she partnered with local grocery store Jones' Food Center. By this time, she was known as the cake lady and her cakes as "Monica's cakes," so the decision was made to change the name of her business to Cakes by Monica.  In April of 2011, Monica partnered with well-known local chef Jim Waters to open a downtown restaurant, Café Brulé. Serving also as a storefront for Cakes by Monica, the Café offers cakes, cupcakes, cake truffles, and other desserts. For years, Monica made around 100 wedding cakes per year, as well hundreds of birthday and party cakes. However, when Jim and Monica decided to expand once again by opening not one but 2 new venues, Monica decided to personally step back from birthday and special occasion cakes, and to pass the reins on to her team of decorators. Happily, "Monica's Cakes" and desserts continue to make Café Brulé a local destination for decadent, home-made treats!

In 2015, Monica and Jim purchased another historic building in Downtown Vermillion, and began restoring and renovating. They opened the Dakota Brick House in December of 2016, a gastropub and taphouse offering craft beers, a unique menu from a copper-wrapped Wood-Stone oven, and a comfortable atmosphere in a beautifully restored brick building with a cozy patio.  In March of 2017, Bru2 opened as a quick-serve coffeehouse on east Cherry Street. Located in the brand new, beautifully constructed First Dakota Bank building, Bru2 offers a drive thru, as well as a modern and cozy dining area where patrons can enjoy delicious pastries, sandwiches, wraps, and coffee.


Jim Waters is well-known for country home-cookin' while Monica Iverson​ brings city flair and a certain je ne sais quoi!

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