Jerry Snow makes announcement on Facebook, one day after story details business' continued struggles.
Note: After the following story was written, Chickadee Coffee Roasters in Crookston announced on Wednesday that they are permanently closed.
The prospects of the bistro Chickadee Coffee Roasters – formerly Cofé – in Crookston remaining open appear pretty dim.
“I think what it all comes down to is, Crookston loves having this business, the community loves this bistro, but doesn’t patronize it enough,” CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth told his board of directors Tuesday.
Dawn and Harold Bjorgo owned Cofé for years, along with, at first, the high-end consignment shop Cycle of Threads. They refinanced loans with CHEDA and the City of Crookston or were given new terms on their loans on multiple occasions over the years, and the consignment shop eventually closed. Last year, Jerry Snow, owner of Chickadee Coffee Roasters in Detroit Lakes, took over the business, along with the CHEDA/City loan balances/terms that the Bjorgos had.
Hoiseth said he speaks with Snow “very frequently” and it appears everyone is out of options when it comes to improving his financial situation. Snow is also behind on rent payments to his landlord. He is also listed on the latest Minnesota Department of Revenue’s liquor sales tax delinquency list. Being on the list means wholesalers, manufacturers and brewers cannot sell or deliver any product to them until they’re off the list.
Recently on a couple of occasions, although a sign on the door has long indicated that hours of operation are open to fluctuation, the doors have been locked during what would be considered normal business hours, which have been 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“There’s been no remedy toward the loans; the business is running almost exactly the same as it was under Bjorgo,” Hoiseth explained. “(Snow) is able to cover all of his direct costs, labor and materials, but serving the debt and paying rent is not achievable.”
Regarding Snow’s tough go of it here, Hoiseth said it might come down to a different business climate in Detroit Lakes compared to Crookston. In Detroit Lakes, summer visitors and tourists to that community who frequent Snow’s Chickadee Coffee Roasters there provide a financial cushion for when things slow down some during the colder months. In Crookston, there really is no summer boost in customer traffic, Hoiseth said; in fact, things tend to slow down here in the summer. What Snow was really hoping to do in Crookston, Hoiseth continued, was expand his customer base for his coffee roasting and coffee beans operation, which is where he makes most of his money.
Hoiseth said it’s his understanding that Snow is relocating to Crookston, but that his intention is to find some other line of employment, possibly in teaching, not focus more on trying to turn Chickadee Coffee Roasters around.
“We’re working on corrective action, but there needs to be higher revenues to do corrective action,” Hoiseth said, adding that closing is a definite option. “It doesn’t do us any good to not get paid back, or for the landlord to not get rent.
“CHEDA has a history of patience with businesses, and my thought process is that him moving here would make things better, but that’s not (Snow’s) thought process,” Hoiseth continued. “It’s not heading down a very good path.”
“We need to remember, it wasn’t on a good path before he took it over,” CHEDA Board member Leon Kremeier added.
Board member Paul Eickhof, as he did several weeks ago when the CHEDA Board discussed the performance at that time of Daroos Pizza downtown, said quality customer service has been an ongoing problem at Chickadee Coffee Roasters. “He has poor service, and you have to invest dollars up front to get a reputation for good service,” Eickhof said. “I’ve been there a couple of times and walked out. I’ve had guests from out of town there, and, and they’re like, ‘Where’s our food?’ It’s not going to work, it’s that simple.”
Crookston Inn loan
The board also discussed the status of the loan for Todd and Nicole Jacobson, owners of Crookston Inn & Convention Center. Hoiseth said he received a $4,000 check from them Monday, which didn’t quite bring their loan payment status up to date, but was a “good faith effort.”
Hoiseth said business has been solid this past spring and into the summer at Crookston Inn, but that the Jacobsons’ interest in selling the business continues. “The business has been for sale for a while,” Hoiseth said.
Meeting held at new Homark house
Tuesday's CHEDA Board meeting was held in the garage of an almost finished Homark home from Red Lake Falls that was built and brought to Crookston as part of a partnership with CHEDA/the City and Kevin Ross, the developer who owns Carman View Estates on Crookston's south end and has struggled to sell home lots. Once the house has water and electrical service, Hoiseth said it will basically be ready to put up for sale.