Sometimes it is really, really, hard to write a column and leave things out. So for the second time in writing these food articles I have a two-part series.
Again, even as a food writer I seem to be the last to catch on. The Great Northern Train Depot has been many things since I arrived in Fargo thirty-two years ago. It is now a bike shop with a wonderful twist: The Clock Tower Cafe.
When Mike suggested that we go there for a treat I was not sure I would find the kind of comfort my mouth was looking for. I was surprised to find the comfort that my mouth needed, but also a line to get it. The Gelato case was very busy. The person working that night, Kristin F., was really informative, telling everyone about each flavor, and seemed to be enjoying serving it up. She even let me poke my head in the kitchen/seating area as she cleaned up. As I looked around I realized there was more to this place and I wanted to tell you, our readers, all about it. Therefore there are two parts to this great story and this is only the first.
Station Talk with Jennifer Grieve, Manager of the Clock Tower Cafe.
HPR: How long have you been open?
JG: 2 months
Jennifer, how or why did you decided to take on being the manager at the Clock Tower Cafe? Please give us a little background on you.
My husband and I have known Tom and Kari Smith for about 15 years. We happened to see them at our children’s soccer game about 2 years ago and we were just chatting about what we were up to. I mentioned I was managing a coffee shop. They said they were in the process of moving their bike shop to the Great Northern Depot and that part of their planning included opening a small coffee shop inside the depot. They asked if I would manage it.
Who decided on the look of the Cafe?
Well, the layout of the cafe took lots of planning. The decorating was the easy part. Clock Tower Cafe just called for clocks. The old stove just happened to be something Tom had and it fit in perfectly. Putting the flavored syrups in the old beautiful bottles was Tom’s idea.
I love your menu and that it is user-friendly. Great idea!
Thanks, I am glad you like the user-friendly idea. My husband always teases me about how I special order things when I go out to eat. Well, when you eat out you should be able to get exactly what you want. So, the build-your-own-sandwich (Cold or Grilled Panini), wrap, or salad menu was just a natural way to go for me. We also have a weekly feature. This week it is A Chinese Chicken Mandarin Orange Salad. For the week of the 4th of July we had pulled BBQ beef on a bun and home made potato salad, but I think the most popular feature has been the Chicken Salad Croissant. We try to have healthy choices and we serve our meals with carrots, broccoli, a pickle, and pretzels.
I really like the part on the menu “Why you should take the time to visit Clock Tower Cafe”. So for those that are curious, as I myself was wondering, can you tell our Readers a little history on the building, and about “Fair Trade Coffee Growers.”
The history of the building is amazing. There are places in the floor where thousands of feet have made a smooth spot as they checked out the train schedule. The actual area were the coffee shop is now, used to be the area where the telegraph and teletype office was. We had a guy come in and tell us his job was to sort mail on the train on the way to Williston and back.
When we were deciding on what products to use in the shop I was committed to Organic Fair Trade. Before the shop opened my poor UPS man was wondering what was going on at my house. I had coffee samples coming from all over the country. I held a coffee tasting night to help me pick the coffee roaster. I was the only one who knew what was in each pot. It was all done as a blind taste test. I was actually surprised how it was almost 100% agreement which was the favorite.
As far as the ‘Fair Trade Coffee Growers’ we feel very strongly about using 100% Fair Trade coffee and teas. Fair Trade Certification empowers farmers and farm workers to bring themselves out of poverty by investing in their farms and communities. It includes Fair Price, Fair Labor Conditions, Direct Trade and Community Development in their area. Our commitment to being environmentally friendly doesn’t stop there. We also use Bio-degradable paper and plastic products made from corn; and we recycle.
Is there seating available for those that want to stay and eat there?
Yes, we have a couple of table’s right in our coffee shop but we also have tables in the bike shop entry area and a huge outdoor patio!
Although this is about food, I think it would be nice too mention the other main business too. I am thinking specifically about the Cycle Ride mentioned on the menu.
Great Northern Cycles has a cycle ride Mon-Thurs evenings and on Sundays. It is great because they offer a variety of rides and intensities. For example, Monday night is for families and the ride ends with a treat at the Clock Tower. Thursday nights they have two rides, WOW (Women on Wheels) and a second and separate high intensity ride. Go to gncycles.com for a full list of the great ride opportunities.
Is there anything I have not ask that you would like to share with our readers?
The Fargo Park District has been working hard to get the Park looking as nice as it does. My son just came down the other day and noticed right away how they had mowed the grass and planted trees. It has been great to watch it go from a pile of dirt to a beautiful park. The Park District will be holding the first outdoor concert in the Great Northern Park on Wednesday, August 12 th at 7:00 PM. We are so excited to be a part of that.
Stay Tuned: Next week part two and some fun finds in the FM area.
Until next week eat well and stay safe.
If You Go
What: Clock Tower Cafe
Where: 425 Broadway
When: Mon - Thursday 10:00 ~ 8:00
Fri & Sat 10:00 - 7:00
Sun. 12:00- 5:00
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