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Blue Ox Coffee Company to add to revitalization of 38th and Chicago

When Melanie Logan was scoping out places for her Blue Ox Coffee Company concept, she was immediately drawn to a storefront space at 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis.

The area reminds her of the small Pennsylvania town where she grew up. She was also attracted to it because she wanted to try to fill a void in "a neighborhood that's lacking," at least as far as coffee shops go.  

Mike Stebnitz, the principal of Stillwater Companies, recently renovated the complex, which is close to another recent rehab, the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center, a hub for sculptural welding, blacksmithing, glasswork, and jewelry making.

It's a key intersection that ties together the Powderhorn, Central, Bancroft, and Bryant neighborhoods. Previously, some of the storefronts had been vacant and boarded up for up to 40 years. "This was a notorious intersection in the neighborhood," she says, adding that in recent times, "my friends have seen a huge improvement."

The Blue Ox shares a 1925-vintage two-story building with an empty restaurant space and handful of apartments, while an adjacent one-story structure is home to Covet Consign & Design, The Third Place (the photography studio and gallery of artist Wing Young Huie), and the Fox Egg Gallery,

Inside the space, a counter is still being built, but most of the rest of the construction is wrapping up. Original plaster and hardwood floors are intact, while several shades of blue on the walls and metal accents give the place an industrial feel. The build-out for the coffee shop totals about $80,000.  

A minimalist style defines the space, which is furnished with used white Formica tables, black chairs (new), and rescued church pews. "We want it to be an inviting environment," Logan says.

The cafe will feature many certified organic and "direct trade" coffee beans. Baked goods come from Patisserie 46 while sandwiches will be made in-house.

Logan plans to open the place by the end of the month. Already she's been getting plenty of positive feedback. "Most people can't wait for it to open. I'm looking forward to it."  

Source: Melanie Logan, owner, Blue Ox Coffee Company
Writer: Anna Pratt

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