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Brewing up a change at the Ugly Mug

Kathy Stronach took over Sept. 19 at the Ugly Mug. The coffee shop/bar is located at 18450 Pilot Knob Road.

A popular north-Farmington coffee shop is going to go through a transformation in the weeks ahead.

The Ugly Mug has always been more than a typical coffee shop. With beer and wine on the menu, as well as hearty sandwiches, the business was designed as a mix of coffee shop, restaurant and bar. Now new owners Kathy Stronach and Dan Radmacher are going to push those distinctions even further.

Stronach, who has experience managing restaurants, envisions a place where people can come for coffee in the morning, enjoy a burger for lunch or dinner, get a drink with friends in the evening and then dance the night away to live music. She'd even like to draw sports fans in for a football game or two on Sundays.

To make that happen she plans to install a larger bar area, add several flat screen televisions and make a few additions to a menu that currently features mostly panini-style sandwiches. An area in a front corner that is currently occupied by a stage will soon serve as a dining area during the day and a dance floor at night.

Stronach imagines a space that will change as the day goes on to give the people who are there exactly what they're looking for.

"It's always been my dream to own a coffee shop. Obviously in this day and age you can't survive as just a coffee shop," said Stronach, who also helped open Wild Bill's restaurant in Apple Valley and the House of Comedy at the Mall of America. "We're going to just cater to everybody."

For Stronach, that means offering the same coffee shop atmosphere current customers enjoy but featuring a wide range of live music two nights a week.

"Pretty much everything from cover bands to jazz or classical or folk," Stronach said.

The restaurant will be open later, too.

Some things will stay the same at the Ugly Mug. Stronach plans to keep the dark red color scheme. And the current menu will stay intact with a few additions.

Radmacher, Stronach's fiancé, actually considered buying the Ugly Mug five years ago, the last time it was for sale. That deal didn't go through, but the couple has spent a long time looking for a business to take on. They considered pizzerias, liquor stores and a number of other options. This is the one that felt right, though.

"I love coffee," Stronach said. "I like the serenity. I like the atmosphere. It's not like going to work every day. It's like coming to my living room."

Stronach and Radmacher took over Sept. 19 at the Ugly Mug and so far the transition seems to be going smoothly. Stronach has heard from a number of customers who are relieved the business is staying open. She's getting a feel for the place, and she looks forward to making it fit the vision she has for its future.

Nathan Hansen

Nathan Hansen has been a reporter and editor with the Farmington Independent and the Rosemount Town Pages since 1997. He is very tall.

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