The process of opening this cafe’ seemed daunting at first because of all the code requirements and legalities I just didn’t know when it came to opening a restaurant in Minneapolis. And then there were the naysayers that said I couldn’t do it without spending $200,000. It took some effort and a lot of education on the go, but a coffee shop CAN be had for a hell of a lot less if you’re willing to do the grunt work and research. A morsel of luck doesn’t hurt either.
I was fortunate that Mike Stebnitz, the owner/developer of the building is a restaurant man and also well-versed in how to navigate the many city offices involved in the planning and licensing of a project like this. And those city workers; you know, they get a lot of shit said about them, but they’re pretty damn good and knowledgeable people. Not once was a call not returned or a question not answered in such a way that my path was made clear in a given situation. Even my health inspector seemed to be a wealth of knowledge when my contractor had code questions.
It’s certainly been a long process, longer than I would have liked, but it has certainly come together. We’re in week 6 of actual construction and only a few items are left to complete; plumbing fixture installation, touch-up painting, and gobs of cleaning. The amount of sheet-rock dust is pretty astounding.
Final inspections are due any day now and Health has been scheduled for early next week.
Blue Ox is roaring to go.
When I contemplated finally opening my own coffee shop I spent a tremendous amount of time looking for the right location. I had a lot of time to consider whether I wanted Blue Ox to be in a high foot-traffic sort of environment or tucked into a neighborhood. Personally, I’ve never enjoyed crowds and couldn’t imagine spending all my working hours in the throngs of mall crowds. The decision to seek out a cozy neighborhood made itself known to me pretty quickly. My son was barely six months old when he and I began the serious searching for that right spot. We had a lot of adventures on the snowy Minneapolis streets on our quest for the perfect little storefront.
Minneapolis, and the Twin Cities in general, has some fantastic communities nestled back in it’s tangle of tree-lined streets, but the one I always came back to was an area that many people won’t visit because of it’s colorful history; Powderhorn. Technically, Blue Ox is in the Central Neighborhood, but the intersection of East 38th & Chicago Ave. is keystone in that it joins The Powderhorn, Central, Bankcroft and Bryant neighborhoods. And they are each unique and colorful in their own right.
Community activism is at the root of what makes neighborhoods great. These neighborhoods are no exception. I feel fortunate to have found such a great location on Chicago Ave.
Blue Ox is a couple weeks from opening and we’ve already had a tremendous response to the shop via our Facebook page. It’s heartwarming to know something as simple as coffee can make people take notice.
We plan to be open before the end of July.
Follow us on Twitter @blueoxcoffeeco
to keep up with the progress.