After spending about a year looking for homesteads around Amery and throughout Polk County, Quinn Wrenholt and his fiancee Liana Bratton heard about a small coffee shop in Star Prairie that was for sale. Although it wasn't quite what they had thought they were looking for, the couple pounced on the chance to own their own coffee shop.
"Last summer, I got to know some of the young farmers and it was actually through one of them that we heard about this building being for sale," Wrenholt said. "We popped in to check it out - I have a bit of a background working as a barista and working in coffee shops - so we took a 90-degree turn and roped in my sister (Hana Wrenholt) and dad to purchase this building."
The building, located at 301 Main St. in Star Prairie, was purchased on Oct. 19, 2018, and the Jewelltown Roastery opened its doors to customers on Oct. 29. According to Wrenholt, the previous owners sold antiques and coffee out of the building.
"Coffee is kind of the way to get people in the door, and it is something we are passionate about, but we also want to better the local economy. So we are selling local meats and we have aspirations to do something with local produce," Quinn said. "It won't quite be a farmers market, but something akin to that. The benefit for us is that we are open seven days a week and when people come for coffee we are also selling other things."
Since the coffee shop opened in October, Wrenholt has been experimenting with and adding new menu items every week. Currently, Jewelltown has a breakfast menu - which includes breakfast sandwiches, pastries and simple breakfast items - but Wrenholt said a new lunch menu will be available in May. The lunch menu will include soups, sandwiches and seasonal salads, Wrenholt said.
"Every morning, we have pastries that are either baked in house or coming from a local bakery. Breakfast is available all day. But right now, we are just trying to keep our heads above water, so it has been one thing at a time," Quinn said. "We started with the coffee and got comfortable with that. Then we launched the breakfast menu and got everything down for that. We are also working on getting some plumbing upgrades so we can make soups in house and that kind of thing so we can cook more."
Although Wrenholt has no plans of adding a permanent dinner menu, he has been working on bringing back a tradition of the previous owners: live music with a dinner special.
"We are looking at doing our own version of that. We are thinking about Friday nights ... where we would have live music, accompanied by a dinner special that is locally sourced. We are thinking we will start with one night a week," Quinn said. "We also have a steady acoustic circle that comes in every Saturday morning ... Saturdays are our busiest day. Every seat in here is full and it is pretty exciting."
In addition to the changes to the menu, the building itself has also gotten some attention.
"It is a really cool building and we've been working hard to get it all cleaned up. I'm going to start tackling the patio, so outdoor seating will be an option soon. You can see the Apple River and a big, beautiful park from back there, so it will be a nice spot to enjoy coffee," Quinn said. "This is a cool spot. It is unique and quaint. We are working to tap into the local economy, which includes local products, local artists and things like that."
Jewelltown Rostary is open 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every weekday; and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. For more information on the coffee shop, visit jewelltownroastery.com or find the business on Facebook and Instagram.
"We're thrilled so far with the turnout and people's excitement that we are going to keep the place open, and keep it as a coffee shop. I'm often surprised too, by who is going to buy the meats and stuff from the herbal apothecary," Quinn said. "I'm really enjoying being here and really excited to experience the warm season since we came in during the winter time."
Where did the Jewelltown name come from?
According to owner Quinn Wrenholt, the coffee shop's name came from the name of the town that predated Star Prairie.
"Our building was built in 1905 and the town was founded in the late 1800s by two brothers from New Hampshire ... with the last name Jewell. They built the town around the lumber industry and at the time it was known as Jewelltown," Wrenholt said. "In the 1920s, the population had grown so much that they thought they should rename the town. That is when they came up with the name Star Prairie."
Wrenholt said that the building Jewelltown Roastery is located in used to serve as a general store and was also the post office until the post office across the street was built in the 1920s.