Caledonia is well known for its historical courthouse, wild turkeys and as the home of the great EarthWalkers. Now it is becoming known for a homegrown coffee shop, The Wired Rooster.
The Wired Rooster opened in June 2015. Former Whole Foods buyer and Twin Cities native Jeremiah Ninneman and freelance graphic designer and Caledonia area native Amanda Ninneman are the creative minds behind the shop.
The couple’s decision to open the business came after they followed a desire to move to a smaller community.
“We were living in Minneapolis at the time and we knew we wanted to move closer to the country, my family is down here,” Amanda said. “We wanted to settle down, so we were brainstorming different business ideas. There was no coffee shop at the time and we wanted to create a community space where people would get out of their cars and use the downtown.”
Jeremiah agreed it was a love for the community that drew the couple back to Amanda’s home.
“The area has so much potential here for greatness,” he said. “It’s already great but it helps give the idea to younger folks that they can come back to the community. They can come back and open shops and help keep the town great. Small towns are rapidly fizzling away. Many have the same problems, people are not coming back. Big cities keep getting bigger and small towns keep getting smaller.”
After spending a year creating a business plan, they were surprised with the quickness of their move when the building suddenly became available. They left Minneapolis with daughter Aevyn, 7, while one-year-old Levi joined the family soon after.
“Our main goal has been to help bring back retail businesses to downtown Caledonia, it’s been 30-40 years since its heyday. There are a handful of great businesses. It’s exciting to build off of that,” Amanda said.
The Ninnemans live above the coffee shop in the building that has become a part of the shop’s aesthetic. Built in 1906, the first occupants used the storefront space for a dual purpose; one side was Anton Zimmerhakl’s barbershop and the other was Caledonia’s Café.
“When we were doing different demolition and construction we made sure to keep the history,” Amanda said. “We kept the original floors, we have a picture of the barbershop and café hanging.”
The name Wired Rooster came from a family holiday party where Amanda’s relatives started suggesting names. Her dad eventually came up with Wired Rooster, an homage to the awake feeling one gets after drinking coffee and the early rising bird.
Soon after opening, the couple came across a newspaper article detailing the first client at Zimmerhakl’s barbershop. A Mr. Roster—misspelled as Mr. Rooster in the paper—had the honor. The clip is hanging in the shop.
The coffee shop tries to carry local brands. There is Kickapoo Coffee from Viroqua, Wis., and B&W Specialty Coffee from Minneapolis. The Ninnemans’ are working out a deal to carry Carlson Coffee from Houston.
“All of our coffee is organic and fair-trade…we like to keep it as local as possible,” Jeremiah said.
The coffee shop also sells ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe in Madison, paninis at lunch and dinner, soup during the winter, tea, craft beer and wine in the evenings. The craft beers are also local; Indeed from Minneapolis, Third Street from St. Cloud and Toppling Goliath from Decorah, Iowa.
They carry mostly organic snacks, like ProBars and YumEarth snacks. There are Wired Rooster logo T-shirts and old-fashioned soda pops for sale. The shop offers a trivia night every other Friday and has a kids’ play section.
The shop has seven employees, besides the Ninnemans.
“The fact that a place like this is in Caledonia is incredibly unique,” employee Joseph Rowland said. “I’ve lived here for 15 years. It’s nice to have a venue that isn’t a bar. It’s a place kids can come to and in a small town like this it keeps the mind occupied.”
Although the coffee shop has a series of regulars, the amount of first-time customers has been growing.