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Fiddlehead Coffee to check into Rochester's Kahler Grand Hotel

Fiddlehead Coffee Co. plans to open its third Rochester location in the downtown Kahler Grand Hotel. Work has already started to transform the space left empty by the closing of Starbucks spot on the corner of West Center Street and Second Avenue.

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ROCHESTER — Fiddlehead Coffee Co. is checking into downtown Rochester by filling the vacancy in the Kahler Grand Hotel left behind by Starbucks recent closing.

The walls of the ex-Starbucks spot at 20 Second Ave. NW have already been painted “Fiddlehead green” as workers refresh and upgrade the prominent downtown space on the corner of West Center Street and Second Avenue.

When it opens in early spring, this will be the fourth Fiddlehead cafe — the third in Rochester — for Sarah Phelan and her brother-in-law/business partner Patrick Phelan . They opened a location in Bloomington, Minn., in November.

Why open another Med City location?

Saran Phelan said the opportunity arose when the Starbucks, which was Rochester’s first one, closed and the hotel reached out to them. Javon Bea leads the Kahler Hospitality Group as well as Rochester’s Avani Living , where Fiddlehead operates a cafe inside the Avani apartment complex at 1620 West Center St.

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“Javon said he appreciated how we operated in the Avani, so he wanted us in the Kahler as well,” she said. "We appreciate him choosing us over another chain."

Opening there will position Fiddlehead to be within walking distance of Mayo Clinic’s downtown campus, Mayo’s Saint Marys Hospital and the Rochester’s City County Government Center.

The Kahler Fiddlehead will offer a full menu of soups, salads and sandwiches as well as a full array of specialty coffee and tea drinks. They also hope to have beer and wine available.

The food options will focus on “grab and go” choices for the busy downtown crowd. It will all be prepared at the other Rochester Fiddlehead sites, which both have full kitchens.

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In addition to being set up to be faster for to-go customers than Starbucks, Patrick Phelan stressed that the new Fiddlehead will also feature indoor and outdoor space for people to relax to meet with others or just take a quick break.

“We fuel the minds that are saving people’s lives everyday,” he added. “They need a warm and cozy decompressing environment.”

Moving into a spot where a chain coffee shop failed is particularly gratifying to Patrick Phelan. He watched Starbucks kill a small local-owned shop where he first worked as a 15-year-old.

“There is more than enough room in the market for independent coffee shops and we hope they all succeed,” he said. “Our competition will always be the chains, who are based elsewhere.”

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When the Kahler shop opens in early spring, Sarah Phelan expects it to be staffed by a team of about 10 people. The overall Fiddlehead organization has more than 35 employees.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in "Heard on the Street." Send tips to jkiger@postbulletin.com or via Twitter to @whereskiger . You can call him at 507-285-7798.

Heard on the Street - Jeff Kiger column sig

Jeff Kiger writes a daily column, "Heard on the Street," in addition to writing articles about local businesses, Mayo Clinic, IBM, Hormel Foods, Crenlo and others. He has worked in Rochester for the Post Bulletin since 1999. Readers can reach Jeff at 507-285-7798 or jkiger@postbulletin.com.
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