Local Blend owner Stacie Stone takes photos of the completed project on Jan. 8. The coffee shop reopened on Jan. 9.
by Anja Wuolu
Why did the Local Blend spend a week in the Minnesota Street Market?
A renovation project lasting from Jan. 2-8 required the Local Blend to close its doors. Employees worked to deep-clean and repaint everything. Professional construction was done by Hi-Tec Electric and Michael Lang of Paragon Homes.
“I use him because he does a really fabulous job,” Local Blend owner Stacie Stone said about Michael Lang. “He always gets to the problem and fixes it at the root.”
Now the building has new flooring behind the bar, new flooring in the bathroom, fresh paint on the walls, a cool electric fireplace to replace the old, an updated kitchen and new merchandise shelves.
The Local Blend, owned by Stone since 2008, is located in one of St. Joseph’s historic buildings from the 1890s. As with all old buildings, occasional maintenance is required. Stone closed the Local Blend for a week after New Year’s Day to repair and remodel her coffee shop and bakery.
During that time, some of the employees moved operations to the Minnesota Street Market Food and Art Co-op. People could buy sandwiches, some baked goods and the most popular beverages. Although a limited menu and a different location does not draw a lot of customers, it is something Stone said she felt she needed to do to give her staff the hours they needed while the building underwent repairs. She’s done this previously and will likely do it again in the future.
“It’s just an opportunity to give some hours to some employees while we’re closed, and for some of the customers to still be able to come in and get some of their favorite coffee drinks,” Stone said, “[and it’s] kinda fun to bring that energy into the co-op, too.”
“It wasn’t to make money,” said Astra Seitz, manager of the Local Blend. “It was just so she could pay people.”
For Stone, her employees are essential. The patrons of her coffee shop return because of the friendly baristas as much as for the food. The atmosphere is what draws in the customers.
There are also some new art pieces. Dustin Ward, who built some of the tables in the dining area, created a new table for the condiments. Sarah Rieland, the Local Blend’s baker, painted a scone, muffin and cookie to hang on the wall. In the painting, Rieland included a description of the ingredients that go into the product.
“We’re trying to get the word out a little better that we bake all our own goods from scratch,” Stone said. “A lot of times people think we buy all our baked goods from somewhere else, but we don’t.”
Not only does this coffee shop make its own food, but it uses quality ingredients. The business is Minnesota-grown, organic, fair-trade and seasonal as much as possible.
The combination of good food and friendly atmosphere is what allowed the Local Blend to win the St. Cloud Times “Best of the Best” award for the best local coffee shop in 2022.
“I think it helps that, you know, we’ve had a lot of great employees that have stuck with us, through Covid (pandemic),” she said. “They’re just really great with the customers. People really love them.”
Since Jan. 9, the Local Blend has been back to its usual business hours of 6:30 a.m.- 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.