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Coffee addict turned shop owner: Golden Valley Outfitters western wear store is now part coffee shop

BEACH -- LeAnn Allen has always been an avid coffee drinker, but when she first moved to Beach, she opened Golden Valley Outfitters instead. Originally from Minnesota, Allen bought the historic building in 2006 and later opened the western wear s...

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LeAnn Allen, owner of Golden Valley Outfitters and the recently opened Park Cafe, makes a drink for a customer on Tuesday. (Sydney Mook/The Dickinson Press)

BEACH - LeAnn Allen has always been an avid coffee drinker, but when she first moved to Beach, she opened Golden Valley Outfitters instead.

Originally from Minnesota, Allen bought the historic building in 2006 and later opened the western wear store in June of that year.

Allen said she wanted the store, which is the only clothing store in Beach, to offer customers basics, like underwear, socks and jeans, but with a western flare in mind.

“I mostly cater to the rancher,” Allen said. “There’s no other clothing store in Beach, so I just try to offer basics, but with a Western flare.”

She said while the town of about 1,000 people does not always bring huge numbers of customers through the doors, the town’s location near Medora and Theodore Roosevelt National Park helps drive up foot traffic in the summertime.

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“It’s a small town, so you don’t get a huge amount of influx of customers,” Allen said. “A lot of people come to the park (Theodore Roosevelt National Park) and then they come to Beach. I have a lot of people that come from Minnesota that buy jeans.”

Allen said the idea to turn half of the building into a coffee shop came last May when she learned the town’s only coffee shop, owned by Kristi Fisher, was going to be closing in

August, leaving the town without a coffee shop. Soon after, Park Cafe was born.

She said the transition from full-time western wear store to half-coffee shop took about two months and that it wasn’t exactly an easy process.

“Just trying to implement the two ideas (the coffee shop and the western store) together has been difficult,” Allen said. “Sometimes it’s hard to balance when you have people here who are here for coffee and people who have questions about jeans and boots, but it’s a customer-service based operation.”

Allen also employs two high school students who help her run the coffee shop after they finish school.

Alden Brookens and Grant Maychrzak, both 17 and juniors at Beach High School, have been working at the coffee shop since it opened last October.

“It’s really quite nice and interesting having an influx of people here,” Brookens said. “There’s definitely some people I didn’t know, but that I’ve gotten to know recently through this job.”

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Allen said having Brookens and Maychrzak as workers has not only helped her with the workload, but also brings in a younger crowd after school lets out.

“When you have high school kids, they draw a different type of crowd than I would,” she said. “So it’s been nice for kids to come and just hang out if they want to and then they are also with their peers.”

Maychrzak said that he has enjoyed working at Park Cafe so far because it allows him to have a bit of creativity.

“I think my favorite part is the satisfaction of seeing that you did a good job,” Maychrzak said. “Knowing that you made a good espresso drink or a really well-blended mixed drink is pretty nice.”

Italian flare

Allen, who had worked in a coffee shop in Minneapolis when she was in her early 20s, said that she is an avid coffee drinker and enjoys traveling through the U.S. and the world to try different types of coffee.

“It’s an obsession.”

She said that much of her inspiration comes from Italy and other European countries. She bought a used La Marzocco espresso machine from Italy, which she said is the top-of-the-line espresso machines in the world and said that “it’s worth more than my car.”

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“They’re serious coffee drinkers over there,” she said. “They can appreciate an outstanding cappuccino over there (in Italy). That’s what I drink. I love cappuccino.

“It’s kind of an Italian-themed coffee shop. We have glasses here, too, that are for presentation and it kind of gives you what it would feel like to sit down and have an espresso in Italy.

“We have the best espressos. We have awesome cappuccinos, awesome lattes, great macchiatos.”

A good place to come together

Allen said that, on average, she sees about 30 to 40 people a day, which she said is a good number of people, especially in a town the size of Beach.

She said the coffee shop has become a good gathering spot for members of the community.

“It’s a good place,” she said. “We have people that just come here and meet. In town here, we don’t really have a place where people can just gather. … It’s been nice just to be able to share the space. I think people appreciate it.”

Tina Davidson, a Beach native, said that she enjoys coming to Park Cafe as way to enjoy her favorite drink, which is normally a white chocolate latte, but also a friendly conversation.

“I frequent this place quite often actually,” Davidson said. “It’s just very friendly. I don’t ever come in here hardly where there’s not someone to say ‘hi’ to. Plus, the coffee is wonderful.”

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