Dewey’s wasn’t profitable enough for private partners; the city will run it as a public service.
Lovers of books and coffee in Eagan will continue to find the two side by side at the Westcott Library, despite a change in management at Dewey’s, the onsite cafe.
The city will now run the once privately owned coffee shop, according to the library’s senior manager, Eric Austin.
Former owner Chris McLean said he and his partner were unable to turn enough of a profit to keep the business as a source of income. He will stay on, however, serving coffee for patrons.
The businessman turned barista said he isn’t disappointed at the change — just glad the city will keep the popular caffeine hub open.
As for profitability, Austin said the city’s goals are a bit different from that of the former owners.
The main objective for the city is to keep the shop running and not to rely on it to be an income generator, he said. But Austin said the city can’t afford to lose money on the venture, either. “If we cannot break even, we can’t continue.”
To that end, Austin said the library and the city are considering changes that include a delivery service and a possible art exhibit.
Austin called the new partnership a great example of partnership with local government. It is also good for patrons, who Austin said voted Dewey’s their No. 1 coffee shop in Eagan in a local poll.
Still on the menu, according to Austin, is some of the branding created by the first owners and the atmosphere of the “quirky” cafe.
The change, which became official May 1, is not so far off from what the city imagined about five years ago, according to Austin.
Originally, the city had planned to form a public campus made up of the area around the library, City Hall and other nearby city offices, with a coffee shop at the heart. But as the economy’s pulse slowed, so did the city’s ability to fund a cafe.
Now that times have improved, the city will give the coffee shop another go.
Lannie Walker is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.