by Dennis Dalman
The Local Blend was honored recently with the annual “2013 Food Safety Award” by the Stearns County Board of Commissioners.
Its owners, Jeff and Stacie Engholm, accepted the award on behalf of their coffee house and its 13 employees. The county’s Food Service Award has been presented to one restaurant and one school annually since 2003.
The Local Blend is one of about 400 restaurants in Stearns County that is inspected every year by an inspector from the county’s Environmental Services Department.
The St. Mary’s Catholic School in Melrose was honored with the 2013 food-safety award in the “schools” category. That school’s food-services manager, Karen Goebel accepted the award on behalf of the school.
Stacie Engholm, who owns the Local Blend with her husband, Jeff, said she and the staff were pleased to be honored.
The entire staff, she said, knows the critical importance of maintaining a clean place and the highest standards of hygiene.
“We also prepare for inspections,” Engholm said in an interview with the St. Joseph Newsleader. “Whenever the inspector finds even a minor problem, we correct it immediately.”
The Engholms opened the Local Blend on St. Joseph’s downtown Minnesota Street six years ago. The coffee house specializes a variety of coffees, of course, along with sandwiches, breads, muffins, cookies, pizza, breakfast items and ice-cream treats. Many of the baked goods, as well as soups and stews, are made right on the premises.
The Local Blend prides itself on using locally produced or locally processed food items, including roasted coffee beans, honey, maple syrup, hormone-free milk, fresh breads and croissants and local fruits and vegetables.
In addition to local, organic products, the Local Blend is also well known for providing a wide variety of music by mostly local singers and musicians. The coffee house, in fact, has become a prestigious venue for singer-songwriters throughout central Minnesota.
The business also features and promotes the works of local artists, potters, photographers and writers.