By Kristen Miller
COKATO, MN For those stopping for their morning coffee or a bite to eat at lunchtime, a new face has appeared behind the counter at The Grounds coffee shop in Cokato.
For new coffee shop manager Dawn Jelley, making coffee is a bit of a specialty of hers.
Having previously managed Dunn Brothers Coffee in Plymouth for two-and-a-half years, and Lulu Beans in Willmar for the same amount of time, Jelley is quite experienced in the industry.
Dawn’s husband of 23 years, Kevin, works afternoons and evenings at the Village Ranch, and has for eight years, commuting all the while.
When he first got the job, the couple was living in Willmar with their two children Mikal, 21, and Jocelyn, 19, as well as foster children.
The couple then decided to move to Plymouth.
Dawn became aware of the job through Kevin’s coworker, Scott Bakeberg, who is also a Cokato Town and Country Club board member, where the coffee shop will eventually be located.
Bakeberg knew of Dawn’s experience in the coffee business and wanted her to interview for the job as manager. Former owner and manager, Danelle Erickson sold the business to the country club in December.
With Dunn Bros. being a franchise, Dawn said she felt “tapped out” and that there was only so much she could do working in the corporate setting.
During her time there, she helped increase sales and remodeled the store. After that, “the challenge was kind of over,” she said.
Accepting the job in Cokato was also an opportunity for her and Kevin to spend more time together.
“The last couple of years, we’ve [been working] opposites. We joke [that] we didn’t get married because we didn’t want to spend time together,” she commented.
The couple have also recently become empty-nesters and the transition and move to Cokato was good timing for them.
Dawn is always up for taking on new projects, as well.
The coffee shop is expected to move into its new country club location by May 1. The original goal was to be moved by April 1, but with building plans and permits, it’s taking longer, Dawn said.
When it does move, Dawn will begin managing both the coffee shop and the country club.
The coffee shop and country club will be divided by French doors and have two separate entrances. Patrons of either will be able to sit where they wish, including the outside patio, she explained.
“The marriage of the two is positive,” she said, explaining that the coffee shop will give revenue to the golf club in its off season, when it normally will sit dormant.
Being in the country club will also create a larger customer base for the coffee shop with golfers able to stop, in for lunch or iced coffee drinks and smoothies.
At the beginning, the menu will remain the same, Dawn said, possibly adding some new items along the way.
“We want to offer a good selection to people, but keep costs in mind,” she said.
The hours will remain the same to start, possibly adding Sunday mornings.
“A lot is waiting to see what we need,” she said.
One thing customers are worried about is that they won’t have their own space, she said.
Dawn anticipates more seating in the main area at the new location than there is at the coffee shop’s current location. There will also be a meeting room available.
Dawn officially took over the managerial position last Monday, but has been coming in for the last couple of weeks to work with Danelle.
In that time, she has already started to get to know the “regulars” who come in for their morning coffee.
“It’s a good group of people that come in every day,” she said.
“One of my favorite parts of my job . . . is getting to know the people,” she said. “I like the challenge of the organization, as well.”