The place at noon was crowded and seemed hectic. With friends, I got in line at the Wired Bean Coffee House in Thief River Falls.

There was no time for dawdling. I quickly chose a cup of chicken wild rice soup ($3.98) and a half of a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich on wheat bread ($3.97).

With the Minnesota tax of 55 cents and a tip of $1 automatically included on the bill, my expenditure was $9.50.

Lunch at the Wired Bean continued when we found a place to sit in a side room of the small restaurant. We could see it’s a place popular in this bustling city where they say over 4,000 are employed at Digi-Key. And there is another Wired Bean shop there.

After we received our food and paid at the counter, we wended our way through the small café. There were no seats left in booths or at a high counter. Then we found a side room where customers were nailing down places to sit.

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And we managed comfortable seating at a table. I was visiting Thief River and nearby Honker Flats Greenhouse with friends – Anne Porter, Susie Shaft. And with Dawn Ellis who lives Thief River. We found the food a tad different and a tad better than we often find it in area restaurants. We agreed that sometimes self service works best.

The lineup for food was not long. It allowed us to get exactly what we wanted. The place itself seemed so interesting that we went back later in the day for coffee.

By mid-afternoon, the Wired Bean Coffee House seemed like a gathering place for high school and college students. Mornings, it’s full of coffee drinkers.

Readers in Thief River had earlier suggested an Eatbeat visit to the Wired Bean. It is one of their several inviting restaurants. Among them, the well known Evergreen where large dinners are served.

Melanie Warne has been manager of the Wired Bean for six years. She says the honey chicken macaroni and cheese is a best seller at lunch time. A panini sandwich with chicken and bacon and ranch dressing at $8.45 is another popular choice. It comes with a side of chips or fries and soup or salad. Every day the homemade soup is different. Among choices are chicken dumpling as well as a different bean and ham soup with chicken.

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Wired Bean

1554 Highway 59S, Suite 100

Thief River Falls, Minn. 56701

Owner: Derek Mogen

Manager: Melanie Warne

Telephone: 218-683-5112

Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays; 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday; 8 a.m.to 2 p.m. Sunday

Report card: Food has fresh, inviting quality. There is seating for 52. Service from the counter ranges from quick to hectic during rush times. Menu is unique.