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SweeDee Cafe to replace 1.99 Americano

SweeDee will bring in new flavors and grab-and-go food options.
Image by Eleanor King
Decorated with plants and colorful chalk drawings, 1.99 Americano is an affordable coffee shop in the Dinkytown neighborhood. While continuing the waffle theme, new menu items will be added to provide a variety of food and drink options.

Roughly a year after opening, 1.99 Americano was sold to a new owner who plans to expand the menu and give the cafe a new name: SweeDee Cafe.

While there will be new additions like lemonade and waffle sandwiches, the $1.99 americano the previous store got its name from will keep its iconic price.

New owner Pahoua Thao said the cafe is currently open but new menu options will come later as she makes 1.99 Americano her own.

Thao said she has always loved creating new drinks and began making her original lemonades for farmers’ markets in Milwaukee before moving to Minnesota two years ago.

“Since I moved my family here two years ago, I’ve been searching for a place and saw this place up,” Thao said. “It’s a good opportunity because my target is the young folks because they’re more interested in the bubble tea and the fresh drinks, the lemonades.”

Thao said Dinkytown is popular with her family and was one of the first places she went in the city.

“I would never have thought that I would have a shop here and when I told them they were like, ‘You have a shop there? No way,’” Thao said.

Chang Yoo, the former owner of 1.99 Americano and current owner of CrunCheese, said he sold 1.99 Americano to focus on a Korean restaurant in Burnsville.

Yoo said he planned to open more restaurants in Dinkytown but running a business when fewer people come from outside the University during the summer is difficult, though he hopes SweeDee succeeds.

Fourth-year student Sahitha Takkella said she only recently tried 1.99 Americano after hearing about the unique ice cream and waffle options.

“I like the vibe of this place, I like the bright colors and I think it’s set up very summery-esque,” Takkella said.

Thao said many students told her they recently discovered the cafe, so she hopes decorating and advertising will attract more customers. 

“Usually for me, it’s visual,” Thao said. “If I see something really yummy I’m going to try it, so we’re working on posters on the windows and by the doors.” 

Thao said she hopes to complete the transition by June with a new sign outside and an altered setup inside the store. She said she wants to have fresh lemonade on display near the register so customers can see all the flavor options. 

The waffle theme will continue with the addition of more waffle-related items such as waffle dogs and waffle sandwiches along with adding fresh squeezed lemonades, according to Thao.

The menu is continuously changing as it transitions to SweeDee, though Thao said the prices and coffee options will stay the same to keep it affordable for University students.  

Thao said early on, she saw what did and did not sell well in order to replace low-selling items with new ones by testing out limited amounts of new flavors at a time. 

“It’s limited quality because if I make a lot and it’s not selling it’s going to go bad so I’m probably just going to do like two or three gallons a day,” Thao said.

SweeDee will also have seasonal menu options such as the Ah-boong style ice cream in the summer and fresh fruit smoothies during the school year.

“I know that college students are so busy sometimes they don’t even have enough time to make a healthy meal and maybe having a fresh fruit smoothie early in the morning is what gives them the energy for that day,” Thao said.

Thao said she hopes to set an example as a Hmong-American business owner for the younger generations.

“If I can do it, I want to encourage anyone that wants to open a coffee shop or wants to open a cafe just to do it,” Thao said. “I do want to inspire them and let them know that, ‘Hey, we do have a Hmong person that owns something by Dinkytown.’”

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  • Kenneth W. Ische
    Apr 17, 2024 at 8:58 am

    Hi Natasha, Maybe I missed it, but I could not find an address for Swee Dee Cafe in your MN Daily article. I haven’t been there for quite a while and don’t know where 1.99 Americano was. Dinkytown isn’t a real big place, but you might help SweeDee by including their address in your article. People can then put that address in their GPS. Most people there probably know where the 1.99 Americano was or can do a search for 1.99 Americano.