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7 West Tap House

Apparently the old Ragstock location at 7 W. Superior St. is going to be transformed into a bar. Consider this a “before” shot.

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36 Comment(s)

  1. Seems as though there’s a lot of bars underway on old Superior Street. Isn’t there a gay bar being opened up around there eventually? And Tycoons opened earlier this year…does anyone think this might affect the culture of downtown? I mean it’s a long way off from being Tower Avenue but sometimes I wonder…

    Makoons | Jul 11, 2012 | New Comment
  2. The new gay bar (the Flame) and the new cowboy bar (Spurs) were mentioned last fall in the post “Gay bars, spurs, gaming, tomatoes and other random Duluth-related matters.

    Paul Lundgren | Jul 11, 2012 | New Comment
  3. Is the new Flame bar owned and operated by the people who own the one on Tower in Superior?

    Makoons | Jul 11, 2012 | New Comment
  4. Yes, the Flame in Duluth and Superior are owned by the same people.

    moosetracks | Jul 11, 2012 | New Comment
  5. I was thinking how neat of a bar spot that’d be. Keep the raised steps by the door and make it a split-stage for musicians. However, that’d be a disaster…

    There are lots of bars popping up. And nightlife wouldn’t exist without a bar scene. But it’d be nice to see a cabaret or something without booze. Sadly, I don’t think the drinking culture would allow it to survive.

    Hot Shot | Jul 11, 2012 | New Comment
  6. How about an oxygen bar? Or a shisha bar? We might be a little ways off from those two.

    Or even a bona fide coffee house? Not to dis on Jitters, but I wouldn’t consider it a third wave artisan coffeehouse. It serves a very useful function, but shops of its genre are fast falling away into obscurity. | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  7. Anybody know who is behind this new effort at 7 West?

    Also, not meaning to hijack this thread but any updates on Canal Park Brewing?

    digit3 | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment

    We already had a “Shish-Ka-bar.” It was the only place that allowed bands in the mid-late 1990s. It’s where I first met Starfire.

    baci | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment

    As a fan of Alakef, I’ve always thought you guys should have a bona fide coffee house. You have a great location in an up-and-coming neighborhood and great coffee.

    Terry G. | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  10. Wow. Starfire looks a lot different in Baci’s photo than he does now.

    vicarious | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  11. @ digit3

    On Canal Park Brewery’s facebook page they told someone “a few more weeks” and that was on July 5th. I’m assuming they are shooting for some time in August.

    nicolai | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  12. As I understand it, the build-out alone on a coffee house at Alakef (wall, plumbing, ventilation, electric) is around 40K. Toss in the fixtures (counters, cases, tables, chairs) equipment (grinders, machines, brewers, reefers, etc.) you’re looking at a couple hundred thou.

    We do okay, but that’s no small amount. Really.

    I do agree, though. That space would be an ideal spot. There are plans, but I can’t really say what those would be or when they’ll be taking place.

    I would like to make the distinction, though, between a coffee shop and a coffee *house,” which chiefly boils down to fare and ambiance. Jitters is a coffee shop, more closer to a cafe than a coffeehouse. Those familiar with the coffeehouses on the Haight and those in Seattle (my alma mater The Last Exit for example) know what I’m talking about. Those types of establishments are unfortunately starting to fall by the wayside in favor of the aforementioned Third Wave shops.

    The Alakef space would probably be more of the cafe/coffeeshop sort.

    I’ve had my eye on a few spaces, but at an average of $15 a square, space is pretty short on profit. | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  13. Honestly, I’d just like a place that pulls a decent shot of espresso. | Jul 12, 2012 | New Comment
  14. +1000% to that. Why can’t we get a fine shot of espresso in this town? Is it rocket science? Next time you’re down in the TC, give Koplin’s or Dogwood a try and you can see how good they can be. I’d love to support Alakef more but like Central and South American beans roasted medium, not dark and oily.

    digit3 | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  15. Angry Catfish in Minneapolis is good, I think they pull a slightly better espresso than Kopplin’s.

    Kopplin’s is great, too, and does brewed coffee really really well.

    Shane | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  16. I’ve heard good stuff about Kopplin’s. They’re a great example of Third Wave…but as far as shot quality goes, that’s best left to the skills of the individual barista.

    I’ve had Dogwood. They roast blond, which means their coffees are usually roasted just beyond the second crack in the roasting process, which means the sugars in the bean haven’t had a chance to fully develop. Professionally, it would be unseemly of me to disparage anyone else’s work, but personally, the style just isn’t to my liking.

    I have about 20 years worth of coffee experience to go on, both behind the counter and in the roasterie. IMHO, the real problem with the “blond” style is that because the sugars aren’t fully developed, the cup tastes green and sharp. Given that you’re losing about 10 degrees a minute (or so) in your cup due to cooling, which means that you have to consume it almost immediately or risk ending up with a bitter grassy taste when the liquid cools. Blond is a useful style, but only with certain varieties. I’m glad though that roasters are pulling back from the overroasted profile that Starbucks has permeated the market with. | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  17. Is the Blond roast lighter than the City roast? What do you mean by just beyond second crack? Do you mean just after it starts or after it is finished?

    Shane | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  18. Medium is a pretty ambiguous term that’s often abused and overused. Technically, we don’t even classify anything we roast as “medium.” Our roasts start at Full City and progressively get darker from there. Centrals and Souths shouldn’t be roasted any darker than Full City, with few exceptions (Guatemala being one). Any darker and you run the risk of destroying the really delicate notes. | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  19. In roasting theory, we refer to first and second “crack” as the two major turn points during the roast process. Basically, the “cracks” are exothermic to endothermic heat reactions that occur when the heat outside the bean causes a reaction *within* the bean, causing the bean to pop or “crack.” Basically the bean expands from the inside out. The first crack occurs about midway through the roast and the second occurs at what we define as the end, when the Maillard reaction is in full effect.

    Blond roasting is quite a bit lighter than Full City, closer to Latin roast or Cinnamon (commercial coffees use this roast). The sugars haven’t had a chance to develop yet, and the starches are in full effect. Full City roasts allow the sugars to develop and caramelize somewhat to maximize profile characteristics. | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  20. I should note the distinction between Maillard reaction which is the browning effect, which is an amino acid conversion; and caramelization, which is essentially a pyrolysis of sugars.

    Blond roasts are at the lighter end of the Maillard spectrum, and the pyrolysis hasn’t started yet. | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  21. Thanks for the explanation. I have been home roasting for a while. I started with air poppers and now I use a Behmor. I roast mostly Kenyan and other east African coffee. I feel like I only have a vague idea of the exact term full city. I try to stop roasting in the middle of second crack. If the beans get oily it is too far for my liking.

    Shane | Jul 13, 2012 | New Comment
  22. You should check out some of our beans. We sell green, and you can drop by to pick them up. No shipping and I think we’re pretty reasonable on pricing … plus, no waiting! | Jul 14, 2012 | New Comment
  23. I think Nick and Starfire use a behemor too. They have pretty good luck with it, from what I can gather. Not a bad way to go, though I like a little more specific control over heat and time and shade of roast. It’s definitely a step up from the pseudo-fluid-bed style that you get from an air popper.

    Michael Sivetz really was responsible for developing the “fluid bed” system that the air popper emulates.

    If you’re looking for whatelseisoutthere, I’d suggest having a look at the San Franciscan line that Coffee PER offers. We have an SF-1 sample roaster in our cupping room for profiling and approval roasting…although it’s no longer made in San Francisco (now mfg’d in Fallon, NV), to my knowledge, it’s still a good machine, and it gives you quite a bit more heat control than a fire and forget type system. Mechanically, it’s a little more complex, but the payoff is well worth it.

    I also love talking about my job. (No, really?!?) rather than hijack this thread any further, ringmeup @ zrabennettatgmaildotcom. I’m more than willing to discuss roaster theory. | Jul 15, 2012 | New Comment
  24. Barrett Chase | Jul 16, 2012 | New Comment
  25. Sadly, the failure rate for coffee shops is somewhere around 80-90 percent. I’ve been doing the coffee gig for the better part of 20 years, running shops, pulling shots, and burning beans. It’s safe to say that I’ve seen pretty much all of it. It’s tough. Really.

    Unfortunately (I think the Slate article kind of touched on this, too) there’s no real money in owning a coffee shop. With a certain few exceptions, you’re not going to make enough to retire on. You might make enough to pay the bills if your shop is successful enough, but the way the coffee prices are these days, it’s damned near impossible to get to the point where you’re eating steak and lobster every night.

    We recently took a look at 12 shops that, over the course of something like 5 years, have switched from Alakef to another competitor for one reason or another, and of those 12, only 2 were still in business.

    Think of it as a big pie. Now imagine all the little roasters and shops out there trying to get a piece of that pie. Fact is, particularly in the Cities where a good chunk of our business goes, the market is beyond saturated. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a coffee shop. Hell, even Muddy Waters had to go upscale and add in a wet bar (much to the chagrin of the sober folk who used to hang out there) to stay in business. My old boss, John Sherrell recently closed the Coffee Gallery after 20 years. He went out as the longest running coffee shop owner in the Cities. That dubious distinction now falls to the owner of the Ginkgo shops.

    It’s not a get rich industry. Ya gotta do it cause you love it. Irv Cissky (the crabby old fucker who owned the aforementioned Last Exit on Brooklyn in Seattle) never *really made a decent profit on the place in the nearly 30 years that the place was in operation. Seattle even lost the B&O a short time ago … that place was an icon for a couple of decades.

    That still doesn’t discourage a few from trying it. Gary does good with Jitters. Jason’s got Beaner’s. They might not get rich off those two houses, but it seems like getting rich isn’t their main focus. The new owners of Stop N Jo have done better by their drive-through biz than the two previous owners. These three shops have one thing in common for their style of success: community. They’ve gotten involved with their neighbors and taken an interest in what goes on outside their doors … and it shows. By the Starbucks model, Jitters should have been a distant memory long ago … but he keeps at it by adding value to his corner of the world. This is a common theme with pretty much every shop I’ve seen in the past nine years at the ‘kef: shops that involve themselves in the livelihood of their community have a far better chance of sticking around … which holds true for just about anyplace, be it a bar or a coffeeshop or a cafe.

    Hopefully 7 West will be able to achieve that and succeed. An LGBT establishment is kind of a niche market on this side of the bridge. Maybe just niche enough.

    Hopefully one of us will get the gumption to make another run at a bona fide coffee house too.

    Ya never know. | Jul 16, 2012 | New Comment

    I am not on the up and up when it comes to the coffee industry. But I remember frequenting a little coffee shop on the West Side of St. Paul back in the early ’90s and my parents went there years before that, it is still around. Maybe it isn’t the right classification, just wondering if maybe it would hold a title for being open the longest, just wondering.

    Jerabek’s New Bohemian
    63 West Winifred Street Saint Paul, MN 55107

    Muns | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  27. I will correct myself here. I believe it was a bakery first then coffeehouse, I still think it was a coffeehouse 20+ years ago.

    Muns | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  28. Muns, that’s an issue that you’ll have to take up with John Sherrell and Kathy Sunderman (the owner of the Ginkgo houses). They opened their shops around the same time back in 1992 as dedicated coffeehouses. The claim to fame is theirs and there hasn’t been anyone stepping up to the plate to challenge the title…however dubious, it’s an honorary bestowance at the behest of the community of Cities coffeehouse owners. (The certificate and a buck fifty will get you a cup of coffee at any participating cafe) … though it appears that the Jerabek’s name has been handed down to a few other owners over the years.

    Kathy has been an Alakef customer since she opened, and John was in cahoots with my boss in the fledgeling days of coffee snobbery to establish the MNSCA (Minnesota Specialty Coffee Association) back in the early 1990s. | Jul 17, 2012 | New Comment
  29. Wow, this got way off topic. Back to the new bar … it looks like the grand opening is Oct. 15.

    I’m looking forward to it. Apparently there will be 40 beers on tap and mainly American beers. I got a chance to look at their website, the menu has a nice listing of burgers at a nice price point of around the $5 mark with specials, etc.

    Ironically the site just crashed on me moments ago before posting this, but the site is

    smackadoo | Oct 10, 2012 | New Comment
  30. Smackadoo, have you by any chance been hired to help 7 West get the good word out about their nice price point?

    bluenewt | Oct 11, 2012 | New Comment
  31. Bluenewt, I noticed that Smackadoo’s enthusiastic observation was turning up on different PDD threads. 

    Who Are You, Smackadoo???

    emmadogs | Oct 11, 2012 | New Comment
  32. Speaking as a veteran book publicist, I can recognize another publicist a mile away.

    Smackadoo, can you tell your friends the owners of the new place to up their vegetarian offerings? That’s one meaty menu! That’s one thing I love, love about the Brewhouse and its affiliated restaurants…

    Claire | Oct 11, 2012 | New Comment
  33. I sent them an email about getting vegetarian options. Really hope they get a black bean burger on the menu.

    toyota200x | Oct 12, 2012 | New Comment
  34. Toyota200x--for on-the-go, the black bean burger at the Co-op is the best in town. They call it a “Mexican melt” but it’s an amazing black bean burger.

    emmadogs | Oct 12, 2012 | New Comment
  35. Just to clarify, funny … I’m kinda flattered. I didn’t know I could write like a publicist, but believe it or not I’m not … maybe I should look into that if I ever quit my day job as a computer tech/geek. But honestly no affiliation at all. You’re making me wish I got paid for writing that.

    1. I am however a beer enthusiast (not to be confused an alcoholic haha, but no seriously I am a beer snob).

    2. I love to eat. I eat out a lot for my lunches and since I work downtown I was extra excited for the place after looking at the site. It’s just that I hate paying the average 7-10 dollars for a lunch basically anywhere I go. Perhaps it is time I bring a bagged lunch … anyway …

    I do agree though, they should have alternatives for vegetarians too. Sorry I don’t know the owners to tell them for you.

    Shameless plug and this may or may not help my case but since I’m a foodie … You can find me on urbanspoon and yelp. Trust me if I don’t like the place, I’ll speak up in hopes that it improves based on constructive criticism. Some may not agree but hey, everyone has a right to an opinion. Right? Ha.

    But I change my opinions often if a place does improve or vice versa goes down-hill. As I would for 7 West. So if the burgers suck, you’ll hear from me.

    Anyway, that’s probably enough rambling. Peace out.

    smackadoo | Oct 14, 2012 | New Comment
  36. heck, yelp is the new twitter…

    Glenn Danzig’s got a yelp page. | Oct 16, 2012 | New Comment

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