Sanjeev and Loveleen Azad, owners of the new Dunn Bros. location near Hennepin and 25th, wanted to create a coffee shop that fits the feel of their neighborhood. The end result is less chain coffeeshop and more wine bar meets cocktail bar meets neighborhood hangout.
While the Dunn Bros. name gives an impression of familiarity and to-go cups, they sought a new approach in Lowry Hill. The couple, who also own the shop at Bryant-Lake, enjoy the go-at-your-own-pace coffee shop experience but wanted to make it last later in the day. They wanted a neighborhood gathering spot where families and couples can gather for a drink, loners can read a book, and working folks can plug in their tablets and spend the day. There is wine on tap, an open-air garage door, a marble top bar, and ample electric and USB outlets for gadgets, giving it the familiar coffee shop ambiance but an added late-night and social element. "You don't have to come for one thing," Sanjeev says. Here, one can drink coffee, sit at the bar for a pint, or enjoy a glass of Saintsbury from the sidewalk patio.
At other coffee shops, notes Sanjeev, beer and wine are an afterthought. Lowry Hill fully embraces both with a unique cocktail menu, eight draft lines, and eight keg wines, making it a hot spot for their happy hours and evenings, open nightly until 10.
Perhaps no drink better explains the concept than the Good Morning, Good Afternoon & Goodnight. It's a beer-coffee blend that's Surly Bender complemented with a mix of Dunn Bros. Infinite Black and sweetened with a vanilla bean/cinnamon syrup and heavy cream. It's a true cocktail, meaning it tastes not like the sum of its parts but like a whole new creation. It's rich and full-bodied thanks to the cream, but there's also a light mouthfeel akin to both the Bender and the coffee. It's welcoming and warming (served cold, but the cream gives that sensation), but it also gives a caffeinated boost. The overall ABV of this (and their other cocktails) comes in about 1 percent lower than the regular alcohol, making it easily sessionable as well.
Other drinks include an IPA/ginger blend, a wine spritzer, and Springria. The menu is also unique in making your drink "Dunn right," meaning they'll add a dose of Sumatra extract at no extra charge. It brings out the roasted flavors in many beers without overriding the other distinguishing traits.
The beverages are paired with a small-plate menu with items like a chicken quesadilla, Minnesota sourced buffalo chicken sausage, flatbreads, and hummus or cheese and charcuterie samplers. The small dining experience is low-key and friendly. While the shop is unique -- including the new Dunn Bros. logo that premiered on its facade -- the franchise is still a piece of the larger corporation. Corporate headquarters fully supports making locations unique to their neighborhood and helped to develop the recipes and supply ingredients.
Having opened in late June, they're already seeing regulars embrace the idea, staying until closing and enjoying the distinct offerings. Owners see ideas from this location influencing change at the Bryant-Lake location, though not until they've had a chance to get this concept firmly established.
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