Espresso Royale staying put

The coffee shop’s building was bought in 2012, but its lease was extended one year.

Customers sit inside Espresso Royale in Dinkytown on Monday. The coffee shop's lease expires this spring, and management has discussed relocating to properties on either side of the current location.

Customers sit inside Espresso Royale in Dinkytown on Monday. The coffee shop's lease expires this spring, and management has discussed relocating to properties on either side of the current location.

Nicolas Hallett

The Dinkytown coffee shop Espresso Royale has been offered a one-year extension on its leasing contract that expires this summer.

The coffee shop’s location has been in doubt ever since Green Mill Restaurants Inc. CEO Paul Dzubnar purchased the property, which includes Al’s Breakfast, in July 2012 for $1.65 million. With the lease expiring in June, the coffee shop’s managers said they had been scanning Dinkytown for possible relocation options.

Espresso Royale Regional Manager Dan Zielske said the corporate office first received the contract offer two weeks ago and is mulling it over. He said a decision is expected in the coming days.

Dzubnar owns 27 Green Mill restaurants across the Midwest, mostly in Minnesota, and many other properties. He said one-year deals are his standard practice with tenants.

“If you’ve got a good tenant and if you’re a good landlord,” he said, “then a one-year deal is going to be renewed over and over again.”

Dzubnar said he’s expanding Green Mill and other restaurants with about five new locations around the metro area this year, but he said the Dinkytown property isn’t in the mix.

He said he bought the building because he likes mixed-use properties, not necessarily to redevelop it.

“But as things change in an area, once you own a building, you have to study what’s changing and make the best decision for you,” Dzubnar said.

Some Dinkytown properties could be declared historic by an ongoing heritage study, but results will take months or even a year, leaving future redevelopment of the district’s properties murky.

Espresso Royale’s store manager, Rex Vogen, said the coffee shop has been in its current location since the late 1980s. He said that they enjoy the space and that they don’t want to leave Dinkytown because it’s a part of their identity.

“If at all possible, we’d like to stay in Dinkytown, at least,” he said, “and definitely we’d like to stay in that space.”

Previously unsure of Dzubnar’s plans, Vogen said management discussed relocating to other Dinkytown
properties.

Espresso Royale management talked to the leasing offices of The Marshall and the Venue at Dinkytown, which are located on either side of the coffee shop on 14th Avenue Southeast, as well as “a couple other landlords in the area.”

Both leasing office managers confirmed they will leave the storefronts once the apartment buildings open.

“We’re confident one way or another we’ll continue to operate in Dinkytown,” Zielske said.

For the foreseeable future, Dzubnar said, the property will continue to operate as is. But, he said, if Espresso Royale declines his offer, a new restaurant could be a possibility.

In either case, Al’s Breakfast can stay as long as it likes, Dzubnar said.

“Al’s has been there for so long that I don’t think you’ll ever see Al’s go anywhere, unless they want to go.”