The downtown coffee roaster and lunch eatery Blue Strawberry has been sold to a Marion entrepreneur.
Mike Monnahan, founder and former owner of the cafe at 118 Second St. SE, told The Gazette he sold the business to Wesley Bryant, 42, after 15 years at the helm.
Bryant started to look at buying a business after being downsized from Transamerica in 2016. He grew up working in his mother’s convenience stores and wanted to go back to having customers be his boss, as he puts it.
Byrant said he doesn’t plan to make any immediate changes to the decor or the menu as he adjusts to owning the business.
“Mike (Monnahan) has built up a great customer base, and he’s done a great job,” Bryant said. “I think if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
Monnahan started the Blue Strawberry in 2003, and kept it open during the floods of 2008 and 2016 and the Great Recession. The coffee shop is a frequent hot spot for political candidate meet-and-greets for both major parties. The restaurant has been for sale since at least last August when Monnahan decided to retire.
Monnahan plans to move to northwest Iowa to spend his retirement visiting family, reuniting music groups he used to play in and picking up some part-time work. While he said leaving the restaurant and his customers is bittersweet, Monnahan attributed the business’ longevity to their support over the last decade and a half.
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“That’s a testament to the loyalty of the business community of downtown Cedar Rapids,” he said. “They really showed up to support those storefronts downtown.”
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