As Ericsson resident Josh Klauck tells it, he and a few friends were drinking beer at Buster’s on 28th, wondering what was going on with the old hardware store space next door at 4208 S. 28th Ave.
They hatched a plan to launch their business concept.
The group of friends were working at Freewheel Bicycle on the West Bank, and dreamed of pairing bicycles with coffee.
Angry Catfish was born.
“Once we acquired the space, we worked tirelessly to gut the building and rework it into a purpose-built bike shop and cafe,” recalled Klauck, who had moved from Linden Hills to 40th St. and 18th Ave. S. in 2005. He grew up in the Nisswa/Brainerd area.
A cafe and bike shop opened in the old hardware shop on Jan. 16, 2010. Fast forward 10 years, and Klauck found himself once more renovating an old hardware store for an expansion.
This time it was at the larger building the Hudson family had constructed at 2900 E. 42nd St., a block and a half away. The Hudson family closed the hardware store in 2020.
“It was more or less a complete refresh in both instances,” according to Klauck. “This time we had a lot more help from a great neighborhood contractor, Blue Construction, versus the 4208 space where we did nearly everything ourselves. There was still a lot of demo work we managed ourselves – including removing about 6,000 square feet of nasty old linoleum tiles.”
The new space dedicated to bicycles opened in October 2021. The larger location for bikes means there’s room for Northern Frameworks, the spin-off that builds bicycle frames. If you’re looking for coffee (or specifically the popular smoked sea salt mocha), head over to the original location which is sporting a new name: Northern Coffeeworks.
A few doors down and around the corner at 2719 42nd St. is Mend Provisions, a fly-fishing shop with gear, apparel and outdoor supplies.
The family of businesses is an evolution of the original idea, pointed out Klauck.
“With Northern Coffeeworks we wanted to further our cafe concept with a greater breadth of offerings as well as to own our supply chain and end product of high quality coffee beans,” he explained. “Northern Frameworks is similar in that we were already selling customer bikes from other wonderful brands, but there were deficiencies in process and communication between all of those involved. Now that we are 100% in house we can control the experience and end product from start to finish.
“Mend was really a passion project that was headed up by my business partner Michael Fischer (Fish). Fish was the person that got me into fly fishing, which became my outlet for stress and to get away from bikes when they felt a little too much like work.”
Klauck owns Angry Catfish with silent partner Jeff Hilligoss, and new partner and chief marketing officer Andy Tesch. Klauck and Hilligoss together own Northern Coffeeworks. Northern Frameworks is owned solely by Klauck, while Mend Provisions is owned by Klauck and Fischer.
In all, they employ about 25 people, most of whom live nearby.
“Mostly I like to believe they all go hand-in-hand to create a community hub that has a little something for everyone,” said Klauck. “You might not be into coffee, bikes, fishing, and the outdoors, but you probably connect with one of them and there’s conversations that can be shared from there.”
Like its sibling businesses, Mend Provisions is a small shop focused on its own backyard. The full-on fly shop carries rods, reels, waders, flies and a large assortment of fly tying materials. There is a tie-your-own area at the front of the store.
It opened in April 2013.
You could say that with a name like Fischer, owner Mike Fischer was born to fish. And he did, growing up like every Minnesota kid spin rod fishing for walleye and bass. But he didn’t find fly fishing, his real passion, until his mid-20s.
“Fly fishing is a sport that tends to captivate its followers and they want to be part of the process of catching their fish in every aspect that they can,” Fischer observed. “Often this means creating localized variations of the insects that the fish feed on. By tying your own flies you get that added satisfaction and extra sense of self-accomplishment. Most fly tiers also become better fishermen as they are usually more acutely studying the water and bugs looking for answers than the casual fly angler that is using a general variation of fly.”
Fischer has been in retail his whole life, mostly in the clothing business. “I’ve learned over those many years that I’m not that interested in fashion and trends. I like nice classic things that are made well and that don’t require replacing next year because of a shift in trends,” observed Fischer, who lives in South Minneapolis.
He had thought about owning his own shop for most of his adult life, and finally made the leap when he couldn’t stand working for anyone else.
“I’d like to encourage more people to enjoy and respect the outdoors,” said Fischer. “It seems there’s been a bit of a trend away from that, especially with kids, and it bums me out.”
For a time, Klauck and his business partners were operating a coffee shop at 4208 S. 28th Ave. and a sister shop, Northern Coffeeworks in the Mill District downtown that opened in August 2017.
“All the businesses in the Mill District were really hit hard by COVID-19,” observed Sensory and Quality Manager Naomi Vaughan, who started at Northern in November 2020. “We loved that space, but foot traffic was very low. Our lease downtown expired in August 2020, and earlier in the year Angry Catfish had acquired the building at 2900 42nd. The bike shop’s business had expanded a lot and they really needed the space. So we had the opportunity to move Northern into the original Catfish location, back in the Standish neighborhood that we know loves its coffee, and all the pieces just fell into place.”
She added, “This location really feels like coming home. We have customers that have been with us for nearly a decade, as well as folks who’ve followed us from downtown, or are new to the area and just discovering us. It’s the perfect spot to grab a coffee and go for a walk around Nokomis, stop by Baker’s Wife for a donut, hit the tennis courts, go for a ski at Hiawatha in the winter, or hop on the LRT Trail. It’s a neighborhood with so much potential, too. Especially as we remodel and expand offerings, we hope to seize the moment as an institution and continue to offer a ‘third place’ (i.e., not home, not work) for the community.”
When COVID-19 hit, the coffee shop closed but it reopened in the summer of 2021 as it transitioned to Northern Coffeeworks and the bike shop moved out.
There’s an expanded seating area in the building where the bikes used to be, with space for the coffee roaster in the back.
Right now, there’s also space for pop-up events for local vendors with vintage clothing, artists and artisans, and small food vendors. A Crafts Market Pop-Up is set for Saturday, Dec. 11.
In 2022, the plan is to remodel the space to add a prep kitchen and roastery, and refurbish the espresso bar.
Fruit & Grain, run by Emily Lauer, will move into the new prep kitchen that will occupy the former bicycle workshop space next to the espresso bar. Lauer specializes in homemade pop-tarts, hand pies, galettes, quiche, anything-you-can-bake-in-a-pie-crust, plus cakes and other sweets. Lauer’s cottage bakery outgrew her own kitchen last fall, and she approached Northern Coffeeworks about renting space downtown after it suspended its own food program.
“It turned out to be a great match!” said Vaughan. “We’ll be continuing our collaboration after the remodel. In the meantime, she’ll have a few pop-ups with us, and she’s just signed a lease with a kitchen in Saint Paul so we will hopefully be serving her pastries again very soon. You can also order from her online!”
Being a part of things
Klauck appreciates the variety of his work. “I get to work with so many fun and unique people from so many different industries,” he said. “There’s so much to learn and experience throughout the various brands, it feels like I’ll never run out of work, for better or worse.”
He added, “I would just like to thank all of our customers and staff for the help and support over the past 12 years. The entire group of businesses is a collaboration and a small family owned and operated ‘conglomerate,’” said Klauck.
“For me, personally, it’s really gratifying to work with so many people who have chosen to pursue their passions through a career in the service industry – we all clearly love to connect and chat with customers, and to share and indulge in our interests, and act as ambassadors to the public,” said Vaughan. “The constellation of business es really reflect and have grown out of our owners’ passions for the lifestyles that each of the offerings target.
“Coffee, bikes, and fly fishing are, for them, natural and complimentary catalysts for adventure and community. Each business is its own stand alone enterprise and collaboration is organic for the most part, with some sibling businesses collaborating to a greater or lesser degree depending on the season and needs.
“I like to think of us here at Northern as the break or living room for the others, a space to meet up and sip some coffee and get energized for the next adventure or relax from the last one!”
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