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Grand Marais' Java Moose seasonal shack permanently closes

On its 30th anniversary of selling coffee on the North Shore in Grand Marais, the Jorgensons retired. The year-round Java Moose location is unaffected.

a couple stands outside a closed door, above which is a sign reading "Java Moose"
Gary and Ann Jorgenson locking up the seasonal outdoor Java Moose one last time on Aug. 14, 2022.
Contributed / MaCoy Fairbanks
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GRAND MARAIS — A Grand Marais season icon closed one last time this week. Monday marked the final day of operation for Java Moose's outdoor location. Retirement is on the horizon for the owners of the family business, Gary and Ann Jorgenson.

Java Moose's seasonal kiosk originally opened in 1992. From May to August, residents and visitors have frequented the walk-up, 8-by-10-foot miniature cafe nestled along the boardwalk at the end of Lake Superior Trading Post. With a cup of joe in hand, they headed toward the nearby beach of Lake Superior to an Adirondack chair for a calm, peaceful moment as the waves rolled into the sailboat speckled bay.

"I worked for the original owners, Lisa and Marty Cassellius, when I was in high school until they had to relocate," said Sarah Jorgenson-Hallberg, co-owner of Java Moose.
At the time, her father held a full-time position with the state; her mother worked at the Trading Post next door to the coffee kiosk. The Jorgenson family built a sturdy foundation in Grand Marais, allowing for a leap of faith when they purchased the seasonal outdoor Java Moose location in 1999.

IMG-6820.JPG
The original owner of the seasonal outdoor Java Moose, Lisa Cassellius, right, stopped to make a couple of drinks “for old times sake” over the summer. She owned the shop from 1992-1999. Gary Jorgenson, left, and Ann Jorgenson, center, are also working the line on a busy day.
Contributed / Sadie Cassellius

"My parents knew Grand Marais would always be home, and wanted to find ways to improve it," Jorgenson-Hallberg said.

In 2002, the Jorgensons added Java Moose 's main year-round location at 218 W. Highway 61. Since the outdoor location could not stand on its own, especially with northern Minnesota's unpredictable weather, the indoor location offered year-round work. They found the two shops balanced each other nicely, Jorgenson-Hallberg said.

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Gary was busy bouncing between shops with supplies, while Ann welcomed visitors with a hug and give children cookies, Jorgenson-Hallberg described. "She is 'Grandma Ann' to so many children. The coffee shop was a place for her to radiate her love of people."

427C0B32-53D0-43E7-A958-171C8DF31F6A.JPG
The entire Jorgenson family is involved in the Java Moose, including Gary and Ann's daughters, son-in-law and grandchildren. Pictured in the back row: MaKenzie Fairbanks, MaCoy Fairbanks, Ella Hallberg, MaTaya Fairbanks and Andrew Hallberg. Middle row: Becca Jorgenson, Gary Jorgenson, Ann Jorgenson, Sarah Jorgenson-Hallberg and Ben Hallberg. Front row: MaKotah Fairbanks and MaKai Fairbanks. Eleven years ago, Ann and Gary lost their son, Joshua Jorgenson. Ella is wearing his sweatshirt that they kept as a memory.
Contributed / Kamryn Johnson

The permanent closure of the outdoor location on its 30th anniversary will allow her parents more time for gardening and cheering on their grandchildren at sporting events across the Northland, Jorgenson-Hallberg said.

"It's definitely a place in our heart. On one hand, it is a release. On the other, it is very nostalgic. It is just a part of our hearts. It will allow for more time, which is what we all crave," she said.

This winter, Jorgenson-Hallberg is looking forward to refocusing and reevaluating how to provide the best guest experience at the year-round Java Moose location, with plans to rework the space for a possible expansion in the future.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

Send her story tips, feedback or just say hi at bbredsten@duluthnews.com.
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