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Local businessman revives Morgan Park haunt

The Iron Mug Coffee House, located in Morgan Park. (News Tribune file photo)

Closed for what seemed like only a moment, the Iron Mug is about to reopen again thanks to a favorite Morgan Park son resuscitating the coffee shop and eatery.

The Iron Mug is scheduled to reopen June 9 after Mike Letica, a local businessman who wears a lot of hats, took over ownership of the shop after community members urged him to save the popular 4-year-old gathering place.

"I'm a Morgan Park graduate," Letica said on Wednesday. "Those are my roots. The community and others have been so appreciative it makes me feel like I've made the right decision."

Letica graduated in 1980 — two years before the school was transformed into a junior high school, and then a middle school, which was ultimately razed last year — further blows to the western Duluth neighborhood.

Letica is bringing with him Johnny Northfield to run the cafe on a day-to-day basis. Former Iron Mug owner Paul Johnson still owns the building and will serve as a silent partner, having worked out a favorable real estate portion of the deal, Letica said.

Northfield worked under Letica for years at Curtis Oil, where they operated SuperAmerica stores. Letica figured the turnkey nature of the Iron Mug operation would be an easy transition for the partners.

In fact, Letica is already lining up things like Taco Tuesday, and 99-cent ice cream cone specials.

"I'm going to try different specials," Letica said. "Instead of coming in for $25-30 pizza, I want to make it affordable for people to come out — hopefully from all over the area."

Letica operates a host of businesses — including an online auction company and a lawn care company. He also organizes and conducts community fundraisers.

The Iron Mug first closed May 25.

"Since they announced they were closing people have been contacting me," Letica said. "I kept getting text messages, 'Can you save the Iron Mug?' "

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