This week the Herald spoke to Melanie Warne, manager of the Wired Bean Coffee House, 1554 Highway 59 South, in Thief River Falls.
Q: How long have you been in business, and what is the concept?
A: We’ve been open for 10 years, and we’ve been at this location for three years. I’ve been with the company for six and a half. I guess our concept is just come enjoy, relax, eat good food and drink good coffee. We just started serving (alcohol) when we moved over here. It’s not hugely popular, a lot of wine. More wine than beer.
Q: What sets your coffee shops apart from other establishments?
A: As far as the chains go, chains are limited. They have very few flavors. Very little imagination, I guess I want to say. We’re more free to get whatever flavors we want. We can try anything we want. I think the chains are more stuck with these five syrups. I feel like, when I go into the chain, you’re stuck with vanilla-caramel; that’s it, that’s all you got. I feel like we can dabble in all kinds of things. We’re not stuck with what they tell us. The other privately owned coffee shops, I’ve found a lot of similarities with us, too. A lot of the other coffee shops don’t have food like we do. We have a large menu and alcohol.
Q: What can you tell us about the ownership and the staff?
A: It’s family-owned, run by them this whole time, one owner. He (owner Derek Mogen) is very eager to try any of the new things. Whether it be the processes to make our foods, make our drinks, how we pay, even. We have the (Apple) square, and everybody who comes here is like ‘I've never seen this before.’ (Derek) actually introduced it to a lot of businesses in town. He’s very ‘tech;’ he likes to do new stuff. He makes sure that he's right on top of the new things. We have quite a bit of a younger staff, like high-school student staff, but we also have a few adult day staff, and our kitchen is all adult staff. We sometimes bring (staff) in as 15 or 16 year olds and they stay with us until they graduate and they’re on to other things.
Q: Where do you get your coffee and how do you come up with your menu?
A: We’ve stayed with the same roaster since we opened. We have Reality Roasters out of Little Falls, Minn. It was very important for (Derek) to choose the most local roaster that he could. He went around to a few roasters and tasted their coffees. He wanted to get what he liked and thought was good. He liked the staff at Reality Roasters, so he has kept them for many years. The food comes from a combination of Derek and any of us; we have some input. He likes to try new things, so he’s always reinventing the menu every six months. Our honey-chicken mac and cheese is everybody’s go to. It’s awesome. Our paninis are all pressed in the panini press. We’re the only people in town that do that. And we have bread choices, and you can customize your sandwiches. We do breakfast, too.
Q: What special events do you have at the Wired Bean?
A: We try to do an open mic night on the first Friday of every month. It’s open to actually anything, singing, comedy, just anything you want to do. You’re free to come, and we have it ready to go. It’s just something we started two or three months ago. It was always his hope to do another shop somewhere; he just needs to find the right buyer. He wants to find a new buyer, but he wants that person who cares as much as he does.