We recently visited Moose & Sadie’s in Minneapolis’ North Loop to sit down with its founder Peter Kirihara. The most salient impression as we entered the café was the sunlit minimalist design of the café set the stage for a full on vibrant social scene; this is no dark coffeehouse where the customers skulk, glued anonymously to their devices.  This is a bustling full service café with an extensive menu featuring made-from-scratch pastries, breakfast entrees with organic eggs and real butter, and plates such as Tempeh and Wild rice and Farro at lunch and dinner – okay we could go on forever… Oh and we can’t forget, that they serve our very own Tiny Footprint Coffee.

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While our relationship with Moose & Sadie’s is relatively new (over 18 months now), they have been located for over two decades at 212 3rd Ave N., in the North Loop.  Peter settled on the location after searching for a place that was near downtown but not in it and would provide him wonderful outdoor seating.

Editor’s Sidenote: In our conversation, Peter shared an incredible story of his aunt who was the first Japanese student to graduate Macalester College – You can read our intern and current Macalester College student’s reflection on this here.

Why name it Moose & Sadie’s?  Moose – the name of his dog at the time, and – Sadie – the name of his former business partner’s daughter are immortalized in the starkly beautiful photograph spanning the self-service bar.

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In the early 90’s, the North Loop was not an obvious place to open a coffeehouse–it wasn’t even referred to as the North Loop back then, you’d have to find someone from the first half of the 20th century who rode the electric streetcar line (light rail transit-that we’re having trouble recreating today) during Minneapolis’s manufacturing and warehousing heyday to get that reference—the building was nearly vacant and there weren’t many other businesses or residents in the area, making Peter an urban pioneer – he also founded North Loop stalwarts Bev’s Wine Bar and Jetset.

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9 years ago, Susan Muskat joined Peter to expand the business by adding a full-service kitchen allowing Moose & Sadie’s to evolve from a coffeehouse to a cafe. They pushed out a wall creating the room to serve the friendly crowd breakfast, lunch, dinner and a weekend brunch that has become a neighborhood institution.

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 Just as the North Loop has steadily grown since the early 1990s – it was the fastest growing neighborhood this past decade alone – Moose and Sadie’s business has steadily grown as well into the bustling friendly café it is today by offering delicious, sustainable locally sourced fare and its dedicated staff welcoming the community through its doors.

This is Joe Huber, I’m a student at Macalester College and the intern who is responsible for organizing customer spotlights.

During my visit to Moose & Sadie’s, I had expected to talk ONLY about coffee and business with Peter, yet he unexpectedly offered an incredible story of his intimate connection to Macalester, his aunt was the first Japanese American student to attend the college.

Her name was Esther Torii Suzuki, and if you ask any Macalester student today the importance of the Suzuki name, they will be sure to mention the Lealtad-Suzuki Center – where Macalester College’s Department of Multicultural Life is housed.  Her story begins out West in the 1940s.

Suzuki’s story begins out west in Oregon where she attended high school during World War II and avoided enrollment in a Japanese detention camp because her guidance counselor wanted her to realize her full potential and attend college.  He reached out to a small and unheard of liberal arts school in the middle of the country to see if they would accept a talented hard working 16 year-old woman from the west coast.  Macalester came through, accepting Suzuki in 1942 and placing her with a host family.

Graduating in 1946 with an honors degree in Sociology, Suzuki went on to serve as a social worker, participate in alumni activities, and volunteer in social causes.  For her hard work and inspirational life, Macalester named the Department of Multicultural Life after her as well as Dr. Catherine Deaver Lealtad, the first African American graduate of Macalester.

As we left the café we remarked about how humbling it is to hear about the strength and perseverance people have to summon when discriminated against and I was more than a little bit proud of my college.   It would be easy to ask someone at Macalester who Ms. Suzuki was, but to hear it from her nephew was all the more extraordinary. Thank you Peter for sharing your story and making it a memorable visit to your cafe.