Dovetail Cafe to open in October

Bryan French - Photo by Lissa Maki

Duluth Folk School Director & Co-Founder Bryan French outside Dovetail Cafe – Photo by Lissa Maki

If all goes as planned, Dovetail Cafe and Marketplace will open in the second week of October. The unique eatery, housed within the Duluth Folk School at 1917 W. Superior St., will serve up meals made from scratch, products from local vendors and a side of education for those inclined to learn.

It’s fitting that the cafe is located in the Lincoln Park Craft District because its existence will help fuel the folk school’s mission of bringing people together to make things by hand and build community.

The vision is for Dovetail Cafe to become a hub where people can gather to collaborate, share ideas and talents. It features a one-of-a-kind dining area — a timber-frame log cabin built within the school — which seats about 25-30.

The cabin has dovetail corner notches and was painstakingly constructed by folk-school staff and volunteers under the guidance of Gerald David, who trained in Germany and has taught timber framing all over the country.

The log cabin concept jives well with the school’s do-it-yourself theme. It was a practical and creative solution to delineating space on the building’s main level. Director and co-founder Bryan French says it was a classy way to partition the space and ensure the hubbub of the cafe isn’t distracting for class participants.

Log cabin at Dovetail Cafe in the Duluth Folk School - Photo by Lissa Maki

Log cabin at Dovetail Cafe in the Duluth Folk School – Photo by Lissa Maki

A marketplace between the cafe counter and cabin area will eventually display and sell wares made by local entrepreneurs and artisans, including the school’s instructors.

Cafe Fare

Dovetail Cafe intends to source from local vendors as much as possible. Food will be made from scratch, both to promote quality and help keep prices down. There will be vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

The cafe will serve simple and accessible foods, according to Justine Bickel, kitchen manager. Bickel says it will be comfort food done well. She plans to fuse her fine-dining experience at eateries like Northern Waters and Zeitgeist Arts Cafe with the type of cooking she does at home for her kids.

Patrons can expect an array of baked sweets, like mini chocolate babkas, mini bundt cakes, scones, cookies and muffins. There will be breakfast sandwiches on house-made English muffins as well as fruit and yogurt cups topped with house-made granola. For lunch there will be rotating quiches and soups, as well as inventive sandwich options such as pickled mushroom bahn mi.

Some of the menu will vary seasonally. There are plans for an autumn green salad topped with candied bacon, walnuts, apple, cranberry, cherry tomatoes, feta and an apple-pear vinaigrette. Shareable items like an antipasto platter, hummus platter and bruschetta will also be available.

In keeping with the school’s mission, the cafe will house a teaching kitchen for its cooking classes. When the commercial kitchen is not in use, it will be available for rent by small entrepreneurs.

Beyond Basic Beverages

The cafe will serve wine by the glass and offer eight rotating beers on draft and two varieties of cider. Non-alcoholic options will include Duluth Kombucha and cold-press nitro coffee from Almanac Coffee, brewed in partnership with Ursa Minor Brewing.

Russell Crawford of Almanac Coffee with his new roaster - Photo by Lissa Maki

Russell Crawford of Almanac Coffee with his new roaster – Photo by Lissa Maki

Almanac Coffee (previously known as Perennial Coffee) has set up shop within the folk school and will supply Dovetail Cafe’s coffee. Owner Russell Crawford was previously roasting 2-lb. batches for direct sale to consumers at local farmers markets. He recently upgraded his equipment and moved into the school. Now he’s able to roast in 10-15 lb. batches.

Crawford is working with Dovetail Cafe to ensure a wide array of coffee drinks. From cold brew and espresso to drip and pour-over coffee. The goal is to feature a rotating variety of high-quality coffee with unique flavor profiles.

He is also curating the beer list at Dovetail Cafe. Both the beer and coffee selection will rotate. He wants it to be a place where people can come in to experience a wide range of flavors. An Ursa Minor collaborative coffee beer will be served on draft as well.

Crawford says Duluth Folk School’s educational focus and shared commitment to quality fits well with his business, which seeks to introduce people to coffees of different origins and processing methods. He plans to offer coffee cuppings, or tastings, and will host speakers and educational events for those who want to delve deeper into how to taste, brew and experience coffee.

“One of the biggest attractions for me was the collaborative nature of the folk school and being a part of that shared space,” says Crawford. “I can focus on roasting and also contribute to and collaborate with the cafe.”

The family-friendly cafe will feature board games and employ about 20 people. It will be open every day at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Duluth Folk School and Dovetail Cafe & Marketplace - Photo by Lissa Maki

Duluth Folk School and Dovetail Cafe & Marketplace – Photo by Lissa Maki

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