Knowing Your Neighbors: Dovetail Cafe

New Cafe and Marketplace Opens In Lincoln Park

DULUTH, Minn.-Many big coffee shops like Starbucks, and smaller niche cafes like to boast of their organic, single origin coffee. But how many can boast that their entire coffee shop is homegrown? One cafe in Lincoln Park sure seems like it can.

“That’s something we really believe strongly in, and if we can re-purpose something so that it’s not going into a landfill, but it’s becoming an object of art, or delight, or utility, great.”

Bryan French is the director of the Duluth Folk School on the 1900 block of West Superior St.

Now he’s in charge of the newly opened Dovetail Cafe and Marketplace, where local culinary artists and the community can get creative with their food.

“There’s also a little bit of a nod to the history of when we were all closer to the land,” French said. “And so a lot of what’s happening in the cafe is a bit of a nod to what you used to be able to get back in the old country, or from your grandma, that sort of thing.”

Dovetail is not your run of the mill cafe. For one, they don’t fly in their coffee from “the wilds of Ethiopia.”

It comes from the same building, in one of the Folk School’s studios.

“Almanac coffee, it’s roasted right, I mean just 20 feet from us right now.”

Along with food from the full kitchen in back, most of the cafe itself is organic.

Furniture, beer taps, and even the toilet paper holders are handmade, or repurposed.

Some pieces even carry deep ties to Duluth.

“There was a guy who came in and said I have the original floor decking to one of the incline station trolley cars. And I’m not going to do anything with it, and maybe you can come up with something interesting.” French said.

“So all of our cafe tables come from the original incline station trolley car.”

Besides salvaging pieces of history, the cafe serves another purpose. It sits in Lincoln Park, long considered a food desert due to its long distance from affordable, fresh food.

“We’ve actually thought long and hard about pricing, knowing that this is a place that’s had its share of troubles,” said French. “Obviously we need to make money to keep the lights on.”

“So we might have smaller portions, it might not be a grand meal but it’s something that people can afford to get, and it’s a little piece of delight.”

Delight seems to fill the big space, as customers experiencing the cafe for the first time come in and marvel at the big log cabin in the middle of the room, and peruse the marketplace of products handcrafted by the Folk School’s artists.

While still in its infancy, Bryan has big plans for the cafe’s future.

“We also have a place where community can come together. And so if you want to come here for your book club, or if you want to come here and join our slow jam, or the monthly knitters’ circle, or the spoon carving group.”

“Y’know, we’re trying to provide opportunities for people to come together.”

Opportunities, and a place, where people can come together amid the undertones of steaming milk, and the scents of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries.

While organized, planned events are the cafe’s primary focus, they said that anyone is welcome to try and wedge themselves in to use the space as creatively as they please.

Dovetail Cafe and Marketplace is open Monday-Thursday from 7am-9pm, Friday and Saturday til 10pm, and Sunday til 2pm.

Duluth Folk School offers classes from over 70 instructors, teaching skills like woodcarving, chainsaw sharpening, and folk dancing, to name a few.

You can find a calendar, and register for some classes, at

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