Overflow Espresso Café owner: “The Central Corridor will kill us”

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“The Central Corridor will kill us in the short run. I’m thinking of shutting down my coffee shop during the construction,” said Jeff Barnhart, property manager for Prospect Park Properties and Overflow Espresso Café in Minneapolis. The Central Corridor light rail project will take his corner property for a three-car station, according to Barnhart.

“What makes my business unique is the ambience of our café,” said Barnhart. “Construction of a three-car station at the corner of our business will affect our pond and 28 car-parking spaces. I don’t know if the daycare playground will be affected.” The café is spacious and modern inside with large windows and a deck overlooking a large pond and fountain.

“I can apply for a forgivable loan from the Met Council, but I understand that I have to prove that my business is hurting,” said Barnhart.

The coffee shop opened June 4, 2007 and in March of 2010 the café finally broke even financially. “Our business has been has been growing slowly since 2010, but this corner is volatile. It is unforeseen what will happen here.”

His father, David Barnhart, bought the first of four commercial buildings near the 29th SE and University in 1972, now called Prospect Park Properties. Overflow Café is housed in one of their commercial buildings.

When asked what advice he’d give someone wanting to open a coffee shop, Barnhart said, “Don’t do it. It is a lot of work with a low margin of return.” Overflow Espresso has 13 employees. “They are what makes us unique. The staff is conscientious, intelligent, and friendly,” said Barnhart.

“I am truly blessed having this opportunity of property managing right out of college but my hard work is not being rewarded with the light rail construction. I hope to get the support of our customers to weather the storm with us.” said Barnhart.

Coverage of issues and events that affect Central Corridor neighborhoods and communities is funded in part by a grant from Central Corridor Collaborative.