Matchbox Coffee Shop could soon be homeless

Owners hope to keep the business open, even if they lose the space.

Owners hope to keep the business open, even if they lose the space.

Matchbox Coffee Shop in Northeast Minneapolis -- one of few worker-cooperative businesses left in the city -- could be losing its digs. The collectively run St. Martins Table closed in December, leaving few others like it besides Hard Times, Seward Cafe, and Matchbox.

The shop's landlord put the building up for sale about a month ago, and is still searching for a buyer. Matchbox's owners plan to keep the business open one way or another, but a new owner could squeeze the coffee shop out of 1306 2nd St. NE.


"Ideally, what we would love is for somebody to want to buy the space and keep us as renters and raise our rent," says Liz Draper, Matchbox co-owner. "We don't know why [the current landlord] is not doing that."

After 10 years in business, Draper learned the building was for sale when prospective buyers started showing up to tour the place, she says. "It was just kind of like this complete shock."

Michael Lander, owner of the building, explains that his company owns a few properties in the area, and are simply looking to consolidate in tough economic times. When he received inquiries from interested brokers late last year wondering if he'd be willing to sell the property, it seemed a good time to put it on the market.

Lander says he's likely to sell to an owner-occupied business, which would likely displace Matchbox.


"That property is really most likely to be occupied by an owner-occupant, versus someone who owns the building and rents to a business there," says Lander. "It's a challenging investment property."

Lander says Matchbox is on a month-to-month lease, so he has no commitment to them beyond 30 days.

"We believe in the area, we believe in the neighborhood," says Lander. "Everybody we think would benefit if an owner-occupant was involved in there as opposed to an investment owner."

After discovering the building was for sale, Matchbox's owners first toyed with the idea of buying it, says Draper. After some consideration, they determined that probably wasn't realistic right now.

Draper and the other owners are still trying to figure out their next move. No matter what happens, she says, Matchbox won't be closing anytime soon.

"Maybe, with time, we will want to purchase a different space or move," she says. "We're definitely not going to stop what we're doing."

Have a fond memory of Matchbox? We'd love to hear it in the comments.