Mandy’s Coffee & Cafe

Recently Mandy’s Coffee & Cafe celebrated their 7th anniversary! So many of us have been there from the beginning, witnessing the growth of this essential downtown business, established by Mandy Cardinal. Here’s what Mandy said about how it all got started.

“Well, it has been nearly seven years. I was leaving a teaching job in Nashville, Tennessee, and the idea happened overnight. After being on a little European trip I decided this was my next leg. I had not a clue about what that would entail. But I was younger at the time and willing to take the risk with little to lose. Maybe a bit naïve: I moved home, lived in my mom’s basement, and started working at Dunn Brothers for about six months full time, so I could learn the craft. I learned what it took to operate a coffee shop from the ground up. That was incredibly important for me looking back. Then I relocated to Red Wing and the next hurdle was determining what needed to take place with the building to get it up to code and what equipment needed to be installed. The rest is history.”

𝔻𝕚𝕕 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕒𝕝𝕨𝕒𝕪𝕤 𝕨𝕒𝕟𝕥 𝕥𝕠 𝕠𝕨𝕟 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕠𝕨𝕟 𝕓𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤?

“Not exactly, I had no real idea of what I wanted to do when I was younger, but I just went through the steps. I went to college, and I did business management with a minor in economics with no real plan. But my parents would tell you that as a kid, I used to say, ‘I want to be a boss when I grow up.’ Because I was a bossy, or some may say a demanding child. Haha! Now that’s a longstanding and funny anecdote. I was intrigued and inspired by taking on different experiences and challenges throughout my life.”

𝕊𝕠, 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥 𝕨𝕒𝕤 𝕚𝕥 𝕝𝕚𝕜𝕖 𝕥𝕖𝕒𝕔𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕚𝕟 ℕ𝕒𝕤𝕙𝕧𝕚𝕝𝕝𝕖?

“I was teaching eighth-grade math and science in an underserved outer area of Nashville. I attended a boot camp for college graduates. I had to pass these tests before I started in the classroom. But nothing really could have prepared me for teaching. It was extremely challenging but was a life-changing experience. It taught me how to face adversity, and I had to figure out how to overcome that and continue to show up day after day. So it was a very formative experience that would help me persevere in business. And I loved working with students, which is a huge part of my job here today. You know, working with younger people and really all kinds of people. I’m still learning myself. At the end of the day, we all learn from each other.”

𝕎𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕓𝕖𝕤𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕒𝕓𝕠𝕦𝕥 𝕣𝕦𝕟𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕠𝕨𝕟 𝕓𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤?

“I would say it’s, over time, it has afforded me more freedom of my own choices. And at this point, it would be hard for me to transition into working for someone else. It’s been incredibly rewarding. I used to want to change the world and do something with some great meaning. Owning Mandy’s has shown me how much meaning there is in community, creating space for all people, developing others, and just showing up. We can each strive for meaning in our day-to-day work.”

“The dedicated staff at Mandy’s has added such an immense value to my life and this business. I am so grateful I have had Ann by my side since the first day we opened. She is integral to Mandy’s but also very much to me, personally. It has been inspiring working with different staff over the years. Truly, I strive to make employment at Mandy’s a valuable learning and life experience. It is so much more than making coffee and food. It’s life: accountability, integrity, communication, people skills…hard work!”

𝕋𝕙𝕖𝕟 𝕨𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕥𝕙𝕖 𝕙𝕒𝕣𝕕𝕖𝕤𝕥 𝕥𝕙𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕒𝕓𝕠𝕦𝕥 𝕠𝕨𝕟𝕚𝕟𝕘 𝕪𝕠𝕦𝕣 𝕠𝕨𝕟 𝕓𝕦𝕤𝕚𝕟𝕖𝕤𝕤?

“Well, I want to say the lack of freedom too because even when I’m not here, I’m still accountable for what happens. Figuring out a work-life balance has been essential and managing the mental stresses that comes with running a business is continuous.”

We end with a rapid-fire session with Mandy.

𝕎𝕙𝕒𝕥’𝕤 𝕠𝕟 𝕄𝕒𝕟𝕕𝕪’𝕤 𝕤𝕠𝕦𝕟𝕕𝕥𝕣𝕒𝕔𝕜?

“I like a lot of 80s music. I love Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison. Okay. And then some chill meditation music. I like music! I always have.”

𝕎𝕙𝕠 𝕕𝕠 𝕪𝕠𝕦 𝕗𝕠𝕝𝕝𝕠𝕨 𝕠𝕟𝕝𝕚𝕟𝕖?

“Brene Brown, independent coffee shops, local businesses, psychology stuff.”

ℂ𝕠𝕗𝕗𝕖𝕖, 𝕥𝕖𝕒 𝕠𝕣 𝕨𝕚𝕟𝕖?

“Definitely coffee. I have at least two cups in the morning. And I struggle when I’m traveling or not on my normal routine to find coffee that’s as strong as we make it here. So I notice that when I’m somewhere else that it just doesn’t quite give me the same kick. I am definitely coffee dependent and just black.”

It was wonderful sitting down with Mandy (because seriously when has anyone ever seen her sit down when we see her at Mandy’s?) and getting to know her a bit more. We are so grateful for her dedication to providing such a fantastic service to our community and thankful for her as a Downtown Main Street Partner.