Sneak peek at 20 Below Coffee Co.

The number of quality cups of coffee available to us in Fargo-Moorhead continues to grow. Small batch roasters have made their mark now, too, with Stumbeano’s setting up shop downtown last year. They roast beans in Fergus Falls, where they started, but now are slinging espresso near the Boiler Room restaurant.

Some drinks at Stumbeano’s I recommend are the chai tea, cafe miel or a cortado. They really know what they’re doing. Also available are pour-over coffee or aeropress.

Now another place is just weeks away from opening.

20 Below Coffee Co., at 14 Roberts St., looks to be a perfect pairing of quality coffee and outstanding customer service, as they write on the website:

Paired with this goal of bringing the highest quality coffee and community environment to our beloved city is the goal of strengthening community in the countries we are receiving our coffee from.

There’s also an emphasis on fair trade with coffee farmers:

One of our long-term goals is to develop direct-trade relationships with coffee farmers in order to maximize their profit, product quality, and relationship with others in their community.

Something the founders, Ty and Elisha Ford and Michael and Danae Moran, have been doing I found particularly interesting. They’ve set up a Kickstarter-like campaign “founding member opportunity” with different rewards for amounts contributed, ranging from a drink token to free coffee for life (with $2500 contribution).

An email went out to early supporters with photos of the new space and it’s looking good so far:

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There will be a grand opening party on April 11th with live music and giveaways.

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Quality Bakery closing after more than 90 years

Fargo’s Quality Bakery will be closing in the next couple months after a long, long run.

It’s understandable the owners want to hang up their rolling pins; running a bakery is a tough job, including waking up hellishly early and staying late. Pete and Marcene Fendt have done a great job with the place after they took over from Pete’s dad.

I had the opportunity to talk with Pete and take some photos a couple months back. Here’s the story:


Working in the long and narrow back kitchen at Quality Bakery in south Fargo, owner Pete Fendt certainly has the arms of a baker.

Along with his wide, white mutton chop goatee, Fendt has been at the helm of the business since the 1980s, sustaining it and its reputation as one of the best.

Quality Bakery

While there were three different Quality Bakery locations at once in the area, there’s now one, in the same building since 1972 at 2532 S. University Drive.

Nearing retirement, Fendt and his wife, Marcene, are looking to sell the well-known business, hopefully to someone who can keep it going. The bakery was listed for sale by the Property Resources Group for $650,000, which includes the real estate, the business or both. Fendt says he’s aware it could take time to find the right buyer and that there would be a period of transition and training.

Pete Fendt

Pete Fendt

Like most other bakers, Fendt has to be at work early, readying the different products for the day. It’s an around-the-clock job, he says, but it allows some flexibility in the daytime hours for things anyone else with a 9-to-5 office job wouldn’t be able to do.

From Germany, with flour

Fendt isn’t the first in his family to catch the baking bug, though. His father, Erwin, started baking in Germany before Pete was born. A long time before, actually. Erwin, now 83, was at it when he was about 13 years old. Pete’s mother, now 87 years old, was displaced from her native Chezchoslovakia and sought refuge in Germany. She worked in a butcher shop. The Fendts’ story would have taken on a drastically different turn had it not been for an American soldier from North Dakota who sponsored the family and helped them move to Fargo in 1956. Doing what he knew best, Erwin started working at Quality Bakery and was able to become a part owner, along with two other bakers.

Food fads

Having baked for such a long period time, Pete has seen his share of fads when it comes to food. He remembers when there were about eight different businesses in Fargo-Moorhead making bagels. Now, only one. Then it was a deluge of donut shops popping up around town. Cupcakes, cake pops and clever chemistry are the latest, he says. One of the biggest, if not the most pervasive, changes in food is the emphasis on gluten-free baking options. A shopper can barely head down a supermarket aisle without seeing something that’s been updated without the gluten.

Cake Pops

Cake Pops

When asked if there were any plans to change the menu of offerings at the bakery, Fendt says the benefits just don’t outweigh the risks and costs. To be a completely gluten-free bakery, Fendt says, requires a new kitchen with new equipment to ensure there isn’t any contamination that could cause an allergic reaction for someone with Celiac disease. But that doesn’t mean the shelves don’t see the new and innovative products that his customers want. Cake pops, for example, have been particularly popular, Fendt says.

After so many years at the helm of Quality Bakery, there will be an obvious transition to new ownership, but Fendt hopes not much else will change. Until the time comes to hand over the reins, Fendt will keep on baking.

‘Pounds’ coming soon

There will soon be a new place to try out in downtown Fargo. 11021118_881774288549811_1813478324201151082_n

Pounds is setting up shop at 612 1st Ave N near Wurst Bier Hall.

They’re doing some renovations on the space right now, and no word yet on an opening date.

From the looks of it, Pounds will feature made-from-scratch food and going from their website design alone, it’ll probably include burgers, wings and drinks at least, so most likely an upper-scale bar menu.

Stay tuned.

Check out www.poundsfargo.com

New gluten-free bakery opens in Fargo

Call me cynical.

I just don’t see a gluten-free bakery doing well. Just Grains, a similar option that opened a while back in Moorhead, didn’t last long.

But the folks at Mehl’s Gluten-Free Bakery will try their best. And who knows, maybe it’ll work out well!

The new shop is at 1404 33rd St. S. Suite D in Fargo and is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

I’m back.

Let’s start this post with a little Steve Winwood.

I’m back, kids. Sure, we’ve kept up with each other on Facebook and Twitter, but you just need more, right?

That’s why I’m officially back on the blogging bandwagon, finding the best food in Fargo.

If there’s anything you would like to see going forward or you have some questions/comments, please leave a comment here or find me on social media. It’s easy.