Red Mug Coffeehouse plans historic move

The coffeehouse is slated to open a mobile trailer on the front lawn of the Carnegie Library by Sept. 1

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A man tries to enter the Trade and Commerce Building at 916 Hammond Ave. Wednesday, July 15. Red Mug Coffeehouse has called the building home for 16 years, but on Sept. 1 will open a mobile hub on the lawn of The Library: A Superior Co-Working Hub. (File / Superior Telegram)

Red Mug Coffeehouse is switching locations from one historic building to another.

The business is moving from the Trade and Commerce Building to the Carnegie Library on Hammond Avenue. The move spans three blocks and two centuries. The library was completed in 1902, the Trade and Commerce Building in 1890.

The Library: A Superior Co-Working Hub is expected to open in spring of 2021 at the Carnegie Library, according to owner Andrew Osterlund. In addition to the cafe, it will offer co-working spaces for lease.

“We’re currently targeting professionals for major leases, in addition to entrepreneurs: clinics, lab space, attorneys,” said Osterlund, with Osterlund Architects of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Red Mug owner Suzanne Johnson isn’t waiting for construction to finish. The business will open a mobile trailer on the building’s front yard this fall. Johnson said she expects Red Mug’s vintage “canned ham” trailer to be operating by Sept. 1. It will offer full espresso and coffee services, bakery items and soup. Sandwiches may be added in the future.


“I’m really excited about this new project,” Johnson said.

The Carnegie Library has been shuttered since 1991, when the Superior Public Library moved to its current location on Tower Avenue. Osterlund, who purchased the building in 2018, said crews were starting construction Monday, Aug. 17, to make the plumbing and electrical connections needed for the food truck while picking up debris from the weekend storm.

Red Mug Coffeehouse opened nearly 16 years ago in the Trade and Commerce Building at 916 Hammond Ave. The shop shut down March 18 due to COVID-19 restrictions and has remained closed, except for a brief foray into curbside service.

“It was a great home for a long time,” Johnson said, but the space was not accessible to all.

She made the decision to move in May, in part based on Osterlund’s plan to add an elevator at the library, which will open the space to everyone. Although she could have opted for a location that was available immediately, Johnson said she was willing to wait for the historic spot.

“I just can’t picture Red Mug being in a strip mall,” she said. “I think part of Red Mug’s charm has always been the ambiance of it being in that kind of old building ... Plus, I kind of wanted to stay in the neighborhood.”

The move to mobile fare will help Johnson put four Red Mug employees back to work and offer them a taste of shared workspaces. Johnson will utilize the commercial kitchen at the Superior Business Center to bake Red Mug’s signature treats. Without that option, she said, reopening now would not have been possible.

The center, a business incubator serving Superior and Douglas County, opened its commercial kitchen in 1996.


“There is hardly a week that goes by that I don't have an inquiry about the kitchen. It is one of the only fully equipped commercial kitchens north of the Twin Cities,” said Jim Caesar of JCC Services, who manages Superior Business Center.

Clients who’ve utilized the space include Alotti Biscotti, Northern Waters Smokehaus, Love Creamery, Superior Chocolates, Uffda Kombucha, Kwik Trip food service training, JamRock Cultural Restaurant, Sutherland CBD and Zenith Bread Project.

Visit the Red Mug Coffeehouse Facebook page for information; visit the library website to apply for co-working spaces; visit Superior Business Center’s website for more information on the commercial kitchen.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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