Business make-up to change at West End Plaza

The owner of a popular coffee shop, restaurant and liquor store in the West End Plaza has decided that cookies are her true calling.

Stacie Suedkamp plans to either sell or close Bean and Vine in June after three years in business. She is working on finding a commercial kitchen where she will operate her custom cookie business, Fig Tales.

“I have a couple of people who have expressed interest,” she said of a business sale.

Bean and Vine is one of two tenants going out of spaces in the plaza. Studio 52, which supports arts activities and offers pop-up shopping experiences, is boxing up its office and will be out by April 1.

The plaza management has another unnamed tenant ready to go into the Studio 52 space once it is renovated for that business, said Kelley Ramsdell, who leases spaces at the property. There also is interest in the coffee shop space next door, she said.

“It’s an easy space for us to lease because it’s an end, and it has a drive-up,” she said of the east-end anchor.

Other than a few office spaces in the business park portion of the property, the plaza is full, she said. The coffee shop opened 10 years ago, and developers had hoped there would be more retail interest in the center, anchored by Subway on the west end.

Suedkamp has seen her business grow and struggles to find employees to help serve customers. “I can’t run this business without staff,” she said. “Staffing will be the reason I can’t keep this open.”

At first Suedkamp thought she could do cookies, which she ships all over the world, and have the retail space, too. But her cookie business took off as well, and it is difficult doing both.

“When I came and looked at the Bean and Vine, it was a sleepy little coffee shop,” she said. Now, “I do cookies at night.”

Suedkamp started the cookie business seven years and thousands of cookies ago after making custom frosted circles for a friend’s daughter’s birthday. She named her business Fig Tales because she had fake pigtails on her helmet when she rode a pink scooter in a club in the Twin Cities.

These days, she does more sophisticated shapes, decorations and writing on her cookies. Her customers include local people, corporations and people who find out about her sweets through word of mouth or social media.

With an artist’s flair, she said she has found her canvas. “I love that it’s edible art,” she said. “I love it when people say, ‘That’s a cookie?’”

So far, she hasn’t been able to find a commercial kitchen she could use to keep her business in Flandreau. The Pierre native would like to stay in Moody County but has looked at other areas, as well.

Next door, Emily Pieper is planning to take a break from Studio 52.

“We’re going to regroup a little bit,” she said. The studio, which coordinated many youth activities such as dance classes and LEGO League, started without a brick and mortar building.

Arts are still alive in town, she said. “Ideally, we’ll find something to be our own space again,” she said. “There’s definitely a need for the type of programming Studio 52 has to offer.”

Knowing she would have to move because she had been using the space through a generous discounted plan, late last year she considered buying the former Corner Café building downtown but didn’t like the price. “It’s just so far out of budget,” she said.

Suedkamp wants to see someone buy her business, including the highly sought after off-sale liquor license. There’s a need for a coffee shop, sandwich shop and liquor store, too, she said.

“This is an opportunity … for someone else to be successful here,” she said. “I would be thrilled if they did. This is such a fun community.”



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