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Beaver Dam coffee shops offer more in a competitive market

October 28, 2018

Nunatak Coffee is named after a mountain peak standing above an ice field or glacier.

Owners Josiah and Connie Vilmin, who own the coffeeshop at 201 Gateway Drive in Beaver Dam, equate the term with being a landmark — a location that customers can find and a place where they feel welcome.

“We came across that word many years ago and I liked what it stands for,” Josiah Vilmin said. “It represents what we want Nunatak to be — a place where you can get exceptional coffee with good, healthy food options.”

The sister café to Black Waters Coffee, at 308 S. Center St., opened after a year of design and construction, and work continues even five months after the initial “soft” opening.

The new shop’s stark design appeals to many patrons, although Vilmin says that something will eventually be placed on the walls. Polished concrete floors and locally manufactured steel and wood furniture suit their taste.

“We’ve got a few things we want to do here yet,” Vilmin said. “It will be minimalist, Scandinavian, a bit European. We’ll have some greenery. We want to reflect the feel of our brand and how we represent it.”

Careful planning was second nature to the couple, as they didn’t want to make any costly mistakes. They would not be rushed and wanted to do things right the first time. In fact, all of the decisions are part of a plan to open more shops both in the area and beyond. The goal was not merely to open the doors, but to create something that will sell widely and successfully.

“We took our time with this café so we could get exactly what we wanted,” Vilmin said. “We’re happy with our downtown café and are very proud of it, but it’s not really the platform for future stores. We had developed the Nunatak concept so we would be prepared to expand the retail portion of our business, to bring bigger and better things to those markets. That’s the direction we’re taking now, although the Black Waters Coffee brand is alive and well in markets that are not retail.”

Black Waters Café will eventually be renamed Nunatak Coffee, and some of the new concepts will be implemented there. Plans are also afoot to use more of the building’s floor space. The back of the former freight depot is mostly vacant since roasting and kitchen operations were moved to South Spring Street.

One of the biggest changes will be the expanded menu, which is available on the north side and will be launched downtown the third week in November. In preparation for more cafes, they built a new state licensed kitchen on Spring Street in the same building where they roast coffee. Ingredients will be locally sourced, whenever possible. The menu will include paninis, breakfast wraps and a much larger line of bakery items.

“We have a commercial kitchen now and we can do all our own baking and prep work here,” Vilmin said. “We hand-make our bakery from scratch, including scones, muffins and granola as well as preparing breakfast meats like coffee braised ham for our sandwiches and wraps. That’s something that didn’t exist with Black Waters Coffee but does with Nunatak. Our food will be fresh and it will be healthy — so healthy that it is approved by the local Blue Zones Project.”

The Blue Zones Project promotes better lifestyle choices as a way of achieving better health outcomes.

Long and careful planning is paving the way for growth.

“We have a good vision for what we want,” Vilmin said. “We hope to have another location sometime next year and we’ll continue to strive to offer the best for our customers. We have several new locations in mind and we’ll be investigating them as we move forward.

“We’re taking another step, which should be a good thing for our business, and for Beaver Dam. Now we have two locations, which is something everyone can enjoy.”

A grand opening will be held at Nunatak Coffee the weekend before Thanksgiving. More details will be announced closer to the date.