After nearly three decades, a beloved Dinkytown coffee shop will shutter.
Espresso Royale, one of three of the regional chain’s Minnesota outposts, will close later this month due to ongoing deterioration of the building and managerial shortages.
The other two Minnesota locations – in St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis – will close as well.
“This has sort of been a home away from home for me,” said manager Darien Berghoff. “It’s pretty sad. But things happen and you just move forward.”
Opening in the late 1980s, the Dinkytown coffeeshop drew a loyal following and has maintained a bustling atmosphere since.
But the constant need for repairs to the old building made upkeep difficult, and after the Minnesota shops’ two managers put in their notice to leave, the Michigan-based company decided to call it quits. The leases for all three locations are also expiring.
“It was a very complicated decision,” Berghoff said. “We were trying to keep up with the times with renovations and new things to keep it looking spiffy, but in the end it was just too hard. You’re not managing a coffee shop, you’re managing a building that’s falling apart.”
Through it all, the Dinkytown Espresso Royale continued to thrive financially. Initially, the company planned to keep that location open, because of its profitability, while closing the other two.
“Dinkytown has been one of the biggest moneymakers,” Berghoff said. “It has nothing to do with money.”
Berghoff said she expects all three shops to close in late December, although there is no exact date yet. Since word leaked, she said regulars have been pouring out their love for the campus haunt.
“Every day people come in telling us how sad they are,” Berghoff said. “One couple told us they met here 20 years ago. Now they have kids that go to the U and they come here. There have been co-workers that started dating here. It’s not just a coffee shop, it’s a community.
“It's so strange that you can cultivate a small-town feel in a coffee shop in a big city, but that’s the way it was.”
Espresso Royale has 16 other locations in Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois.
(Photo via Espresso Royale Facebook)