Mandan News

Coffee with friends

Tara Kiemele, owner of Cappuccino on Collins since 2006,  likes being her own boss and being able to socialize with family and friends while running the shop in Mandan. (Rheanna Haaland photo)

Tara Kiemele, owner of Cappuccino on Collins since 2006, likes being her own boss and being able to socialize with family and friends while running the shop in Mandan. (Rheanna Haaland photo)

By Rheanna Haaland
For the Mandan News

Cappuccino on Collins is a Mandan coffee shop with a vintage, family-style atmosphere, locally owned by Tara Kiemele. It has been a comfy, welcoming place for nearly two decades.

Sharry Jo Ereth, Kiemele’’s sister-in-law, opened Cappuccino on Collins in 1994. Kiemele worked with Ereth for five years before purchasing the shop in 2006. In most aspects, the shop at 105 Collins Ave. has remained the same.

“(Ereth) went out to Washington and saw the coffee craze out there, so when she came back here she decided that what she needed to do was have a coffee shop. She was right,” Kiemele said. “I kind of kept exactly what she did, just because you don’t mess with a good thing.”

The assortment of mismatched chairs and well-seasoned tables make the interior of the shop warm and welcoming in stark contrast to the December weather outside. Antique coffee cans line the windowsills; although Kiemele initially purchased several at a flea market, she says the rest were brought in by her loyal patrons. She also makes frequent use of the ‘50s-style coffee grinder displayed near the counter. The high ceilings and recent paint job complete the setting.

“It drives my mom crazy that (the furniture pieces) don’t match, but I like it. She’s like ‘your chairs are awful … you seriously need to get matching chairs’ but I don’t know, I think that would take away from the old, antique mishmash.”

With such a welcoming setting, it is not surprising that Kiemele knows most of her customers. While they may come for good coffee, they often stay for more social purposes.

“Some are from Bismarck, some are retired and they come down here to have some interaction. If somebody comes in that they don’t know, they just visit with them and have them join the crew. It’s just that family sort of atmosphere,” said Kiemele.

On Saturday mornings, Cappuccino on Collins features live acoustic music. After Kiemele purchased the store, her father and his friends started using the space to play. Typically the musicians arrive around 9:30 or 10 a.m., sometimes staying until noon if there are enough people.

“It’s just a jam. They sit in a circle over in this corner and whenever it’s your turn it’s whatever kind of music you want to play, it could be bluegrass, country, something they wrote … anything. It really just depends on the crew of guys that comes in,” Kiemele said.

Another of the shop’s many notable features is its small selection of books for exchange. What began as a sizeable pile of books from Kiemele’s aunt has turned into a community bucket from which anyone can take a book in return for leaving one of theirs.

“I set them out for people to take.” Kiemele said. “I thought that was kind of cool. I’ve gotten a few really good books out of there too that I would never normally buy, just because they’re free.”

In addition to loving the atmosphere of her coffee shop, Kiemele appreciates the many perks of owning her own business. She loves being her own boss and being able to socialize with friends and family while keeping the shop running smoothly.

“My mom will come down and visit; my daughter and her dad will stop sometimes on their way to school and hang out and visit, sometimes they’ll come down and make breakfast. Your family can come down and visit you at work; you can’t do that everywhere,” she said.

Cappuccino on Collins will be offering holiday drinks until the middle of January such as an eggnog latte, peppermint mocha and pumpkin pie latte. Kiemele says that the shop’s most popular drink is it salted caramel latte.

Cappuccino on Collins is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Cappuccino on Collins first opened its door to customers in  1994. (Rheanna Haaland photo)

Cappuccino on Collins first opened its door to customers in 1994. (Rheanna Haaland photo)