Heroes Rise Coffee Company expanding to Crookston, in familiar coffee spot

The Bemidji-based business will open in a north-end Crookston location previously home to two coffee shops that couldn't make a go of it financially.

Mike Christopherson and Jess Bengtson

    Will the third time be the charm and a coffee shop will be able to make a go of it financially on the west side of University Avenue, next door to I.C. Muggs and Best Buy Liquor?

    That’s the hope, as things are progressing toward Heroes Rise Coffee Company moving into the space first occupied by Cofé and then Chickadee Coffee Roasters, both of which shut their doors.

    It’s possible that the owners of Heroes Rise Coffee will be on site as soon as Wednesday to start getting the space ready to reopen as soon as Dec. 1.

    The surprising turn of events stems from CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth’s continued efforts, at the direction of his board of directors, over the past several months to find a buyer for some or all of the equipment remaining in the business space, which was valued at an estimated $36,000. When the two previous businesses defaulted on their loans, CHEDA was left owning the equipment.

    Heroes Rise Coffee, based in Bemidji, has a coffee truck, and their name stems from their support of law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders. As part of the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership’s food truck initiative downtown this past summer, Heroes Rise Coffee parked their truck downtown for one day last month, and Hoiseth, at Tuesday’s CHEDA Board meeting, reported that it it was a smashing success for the company.

    “Heroes Rise was brought in by the DCDP, and it allowed us to show them our coffee-drinking market,” Hoiseth said. “It was their highest-grossing day of the year.”

    Heroes Rise had been looking to expand, he continued, and the events of that day in Crookston resulted in a focus on growing the business here. Not only that, Hoiseth said, Heroes Rise has reached a lease agreement with property owner Jeff Evers on the adjacent space next door for their cold-brew operation, which will create three to five new jobs.

    Heroes Rise is going to pay the asking price of $36,000 for the equipment at the location. The CHEDA Board on Tuesday, at board member Craig Morgan’s suggestion, gave Hoiseth the leeway to work with Heroes Rise on a financial transaction scenario that works best for all parties involved. Morgan’s recommendation came after a lengthy discussion about requiring Heroes Rise to produce 10% of the cost of the equipment, or $3,600, up front. After a motion to do that was defeated because most board members didn’t want to potentially send a negative message to Heroes Rise and have them potentially back out of coming to Crookston, there was talk of charging Heroes Rise some interest. But the board subsequently agreed to let Hoiseth continue talks with Heroes Rise himself and come up with a workable purchase agreement.

    There is still debt from unpaid loan balances on CHEDA’s books totaling around $120,000, dating back to Cofé and owner Dawn Bjorgo that carried forward with Jerry Snow, owner of Chickadee Coffee Roasters. Hoiseth said the board will have to decide if they want to pursue legal action and “get what we can.”

    Heroes Rise Coffee will likely be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, owner Matt VanGrinsven tells the Times. They will offer some “specialty” breakfast food and baked goods, or a soup-and-sandwich type of lunch special. Hoiseth said Heroes Rise is a proponent of online ordering and also utilizing a phone app so customers can order their coffee and pay ahead of time, then simply go through the drive-through to get it.

    “You order and pay and then pick it up on your way to the office or wherever,” Hoiseth explained. “They see that as a tremendous market, something that wasn’t explored much before.

    “We have the mobile app to order ahead, we have a website where we can sell and ship coffee, and our goal is to keep coffee in Crookston. We don’t want to lose coffee business to Grand Forks,” VanGrinsven explained to the Times. “You can order the night before and pick it up in the morning before work, plus we’ll have a new ‘top secret’ menu announced soon.”

    “I think they are primed to do this well,” Hoiseth said, adding that VanGrinsven’s dad is a partner in the business and that VanGrinsven’s parents are planning to move to Crookston to run the business.

    “We are so excited and we are happy to grow our family-run operation,” VanGrinsven said. “We plan on hiring a fair amount of people right away and will use our same mission and model to give back. So far, we’ve given back to $30,000 in coffee to first responders this year.”

    VanGrinsven added that their new shop’s interior will be a “bold” red, white and blue to honor first responders plus unique ways to honor Minnesota firefighters, police, nurses, EMTs, and more.

    “I think Crookston is going to be excited about this,” Hoiseth said.