FAIRMONT - The smell of coffee and fresh-baked goods will soon permeate the air at Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont when Brewkaz opens its doors to customers.
If all goes as planned, Brewkaz - pronounced broo' cuz - will be serving food and drinks by mid-June.
It's a much-anticipated day, for coffee lovers and former patrons of Interlaken Joe's - the establishment that used to occupy the same space in the mall until it closed several years ago.
Dawn Kastner, left, Kazia Bolsinger and Dan Kastner pose for a photo at Brewkaz Coffee House & Cafe in Fairmont.
Behind the counter of Brewkaz Coffee House & Cafe will be Kazia Bolsinger, who worked at Interlaken Joe's when she was a student at Fairmont High School. This time, however, Bolsinger isn't the employee. She is the proprietor.
After high school, Bolsinger trained in the culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, and then gained her most notable experience through an internship at Leilani's in Maui, and then in the kitchen at Cafe Maude, an award-winning bistro in Minneapolis.
"I've worked in the restaurant industry since I was 15," Bolsinger said, from management, to waiting tables, to food prep and cooking. "... I have a lot of experience on all ends now, so I'm trying to pull it all together with Brewkaz."
Similar to its predecessor, Brewkaz's menu will feature sandwiches and salads. Chili will be served daily, and Bolsinger will expand to offer other soups, depending on customer requests. Brewkaz also will have baked breakfast items, such as muffins and scones, and brownies and other treats for afternoon coffee time.
As a Fairmont native, Bolsinger realizes most diners in southern Minnesota are not seeking a culinary adventure when they sit down to lunch, so she is keeping her menu simple, with just a few twists on some classic sandwich favorites. Her roast beef sandwich, for instance, will come on a Dutch crunch baguette, with tomatoes, arugula lettuce, red onions and a rosemary-garlic aeoli. The turkey panini will be roasted turkey topped with thinly sliced apples, sandwiched between cinnamon-raisin bread slathered with homemade hot-pepper jelly. Gluten-free options will be available for the sandwiches.
"I like to branch out, and I hope people can enjoy it," Bolsinger said. "I don't think anyone on the menu is too far out there."
Prior to attending culinary school, Bolsinger was a picky eater herself, she confessed.
"My taste buds have grown a lot," she said, laughing.
Her parents, Dawn and Dan Kastner agreed. Besides providing moral support to Bolsinger, they are her financial backers, and they helped every step of the way with renovations.
Dan is actually credited with formulating the plan to open a coffee shop.
"My husband started hatching the plan in December," said Dawn, crediting her spouse for his entrepreneurial spirit.
"He's always thinking of some sort of food venture, so with Kazia's culinary degree ..."
Since February, the family has spent much of its free time at Brewkaz. With help from friends, they have redone the flooring and lighting; painted walls, ceilings and trimwork, and decorated.
Dawn, who owns the Main Image hair salon, will work a couple days a week at Brewkaz, along with 10 other employees.
The family had hoped to be in business sooner, but has been waiting on an espresso machine. When it arrives this week, training can begin.
Coffee will be shipped in daily after being freshly roasted and bagged by a company in the Twin Cities. Brewkaz is buying organic coffee only from fair trade operations out of Ethiopia, Brazil, Columbia and elsewhere around the world.
"The coffee's really good. The quality of it ..." Bolsinger paused, sighing blissfully, "you can't go back to Folgers once you have it."
The drink menu will include a couple blends of coffee; the usual espresso drinks, like lattes and mochas; hot or cold teas, depending on the season, and smoothies.
Food will vary in price, from $7 down, and drinks will be comparable to competitors, with special drinks around $3-$4.
Hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.