Photo by Eric Best

Copper Hen owners open café, wine bar downtown

Updated: September 5, 2018 - 9:19 am

Rose gold-hued Gray Fox Coffee & Wine serves breakfast, lunch and happy hour in newly renovated 801 Marquette building atrium

Chris Bjorling describes his and his wife Danielle’s new cafe as “serendipitous.”

That’s because the two, the owners of The Copper Hen Cakery & Kitchen in Whittier, were already working on the Copper Cow, their new restaurant out in Minnetonka. But when the chance came for the two to develop a coffee shop and wine bar just off the downtown Minneapolis skyway, it was too good to pass up. So they created Gray Fox Coffee & Wine.

“We weren’t really looking for this. We were already busy pursuing (the Copper Cow), but this fell into our laps and it seemed like a good opportunity,” he said.

In addition to following the restaurateurs’ color-plus-animal naming convention, Gray Fox features their focus on baked goods and fresh local ingredients. The coffee shop opened Monday in the atrium of the 801 Marquette building, which was recently renovated.

Building owner Franklin Street Properties approached the two to develop a café that could do it all, from breakfast and lunch to pastries and happy hour. In addition to lattes and treats, Gray Fox serves hot paninis, smoothie bowls and salads made from scratch. A separate wine bar offers wines by the glass for about $8–$11 or by the bottle, but during happy hour, Bjorling said, some wines will only run patrons $3 or $4 per glass. The mix and sheer amount of offerings makes Gray Fox stand out in the skyway, he added.

“There are a lot of coffee shops and there are some bars and some happy hour places. But there’s not like a coffee-bar hangout area,” he said. “It gave us an opportunity to create something that’s refreshing and unique.”

Photo by Eric Best
Photo by Eric Best

Both sides of the business feature a few trend-conscious items like froze or frozen rosé wine and even a Millennial Pink Latte with strawberries, espresso, oat milk and beetroot power. Gray Fox carries bagels from the North Loop’s Rise Bagel Co. and doughnuts from the skyway’s Cardigan Donuts.

The décor also follows the trends. Both the café and wine bar follow a white, black and rose gold color scheme that spills out into the atrium with black Victorian-style furniture, from black wood tables for office meetings to velvet lounge furniture for post-work hangouts.

Bjorling said creating a concept for the skyway and downtown’s office workers was a new challenge.

“People want something quick. They want it to be good. They want it to be memorable. And they want it to go,” he said.

Gray Fox, at 801 Marquette Ave. S., is open 7 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

  • Sean Ryan

    That’s not the skyway…