Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Chickadee owners celebrate one year anniversary


Joe and Ashley Bonniwell of Sturgeon Lake celebrated one year of ownership of the Chickadee Coffeehouse and Deli in Barnum and showed appreciation of the support of their customers with a First Anniversary Celebration on Saturday.

“We are very grateful for all of the support that we’ve had from our customers,” said Joe in an interview on Thursday. “We are very grateful to be here.”

Joe and Ashley came from the Twin Cities area originally and have been living near Sturgeon Lake for six years, he explained. He said that he’s been involved in other small home-based businesses, such as multi-level marketing, working as a handyman and working on construction.

But there was a dream out there that needed fulfillment.

“Five years ago, I said that I wanted to own a small bakery or a small restaurant,” he said. “And then this fell on us. We saw on Facebook that this was going to shut down. I asked Ashley if we should buy it, and here we are, one year later.”

Both Joe and Ashley were new to the restaurant business.

“It was a very interesting learning curve,” he said. “But it was a very interesting experience.”

And the people in the area have responded.

“We’ve noticed that sales have picked up since last summer,” said Joe. “We found the right customers and they have come back.”

Chickadee is a unique log coffeehouse and deli located on County Road 13 in Barnum, right across the street from Barnum High School. Books are available to pick up and read while customers sit and enjoy the specialities of the coffeehouse. A limited number of items are also available for sale.

Features of the coffeehouse are a downstairs conference room, live music every Friday night and catering.

“We catered for a few graduation parties this year, and we’ve catered for weddings, funeral lunches and all sorts of other occasions,” Joe explained. “We are working on obtaining beer and wine licenses.”

Ashley spoke of the time commitment that owning the coffeehouse entails.

“We have to balance everything,” she said. “There was so much time involved with just learning to manage everything and still fit in some personal life.”

The couple has no children, and that has enabled the couple to devote their energies to the business. And they rely on their six part-time employees.

“We had to learn how to delegate and ask for help,” said Ashley. “We’ve worked with the employees to learn how to manage their schedules.”

The couple appreciates the community support and, to thank them, had a variety of activities for people of all ages to enjoy on Saturday. There was a bounce house, face painting, beer samples from Moose Lake Brewery, a DJ, and free barbeque.

The families of Joe and Ashely came to help during the celebration.

That’s not the only event. A Summer Bazaar is planned for July 6.

“We will have vendors at the bazaar from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.,” said Joe. “Come and check us out. Everyone is welcome.”


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