Duluth couple opens dream cafe and game store – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Lifelong Duluthians Erin and Matt Glesner are less than a week away from opening their combination coffee shop and game store, The Loch Cafe and Games, something Matt says they’ve been dreaming of for years.

“We started formulating the idea in 2017,” Matt said. “Because I’m a huge nerd. Magic the Gathering was always my thing. I’ve literally been playing it since I was 10 years old.”

The couple moved back to the Duluth area from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, in 2017, and Matt quickly became dissatisfied with his “regular job.” He began drafting ideas to run his own business, something that runs in his family, since his mother started his own business when he was a child.

cafeteria focused on gaming enthusiasts
Erin and Matt Glesner show off the area of ​​the business that will house gaming products.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

While Matt dreamed up plans for the gaming side of the business, Erin had worked in the food industry and as a barista for a little over 10 years. She started her own comfort food bakery in 2015, North Shore Cakes, out of her home and began to focus on the logistics and cafeteria side of the dream.

“He’s more on the face and game side. I’m more on the serious baking side,” Erin said. “But I enjoy more strategy games like Mansions of Madness, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate, those kinds of games.”

After dreaming and planning the store for years, the couple decided to jump into business in 2021 and began working with the Entrepreneurs Fund and Members Credit Union to make the dream come true. They began looking for buildings in 2022 and looked at several different locations before finding its current location at 318 N. 18th Ave. E. in what was most recently the Golden Bulldog bar.

cafeteria focused on gaming enthusiasts
The Loch Café and Games seen on May 23 in Duluth.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

“We’ve had our eye on this building forever and it went up for sale the same day our real estate agent wanted to show us a few different places. I was like, ‘Hey, can we go see this one please?'” Matt said. . “We got here, checked it out and timed it literally to perfection.”

One of the main attractions of the building was its accessibility on the ground floor and its space on the upper floor that will be used for games.

“We wanted to have a really nice space for people to come hang out and have coffee and chat with their friends, but also a nicer place for people to come and play,” Matt said. “A place that’s a little more aesthetic and accessible for people where they can come and unlock their inner nerd.”

That’s the cafe/shop’s motto: Unleash your inner nerd at the Loch Cafe. Speaking of the name, the Glesners chose it after going through various other ideas. At first, Matt really wanted to call it “Lady in the Lake,” but he found it too wordy.

cafeteria focused on gaming enthusiasts
Matt Glesner, left, and Erin Glesner discuss the public space on the second floor of the business.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

“Then we started to come up with some other ideas,” Matt said. “Erin and I really like Norse and Celtic mythology, so we thought about Loch Ness and the monster and we thought it was a good fit because we live next to a giant lake and loch is another word for lake.”

“And we’ve both always loved Scotland and the idea of ​​Nessie and wanted to play into the mythology that there’s potentially our own Nessie in Lake Superior,” Erin said. “So it fits.”

As for the game store side, Matt said that the store will have supplies for “the big three,” aka Magic the Gathering, Dungeons and Dragons, and Warhammer 40K. But alongside them will be plenty of other trading deck games like Pokémon, RPGs like Pathfinder, and painting supplies and miniatures for games like Kings of War.

In addition to the supplies, the Glesners plan to host regular introductory game nights and tournaments to teach new players how to play.

“Sometimes you go to certain places and it’s almost like you’re too scared to get involved because you’re too embarrassed that you don’t know what’s going on,” Matt said. “You should never feel uncomfortable walking in and asking questions. It should be for everyone. We want to break the ice with rookie nights.”

cafeteria focused on gaming enthusiasts
Erin Glesner, left, and Matt Glesner will be using the space to give gaming enthusiasts the chance to play role-playing and board games.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

On the cafeteria side, Erin worked with the Duluth Coffee Company to animate the cafeteria selections. She also added several references to her favorite nerd culture outlets on the menu. Erin also added a little over 20 references to her favorite nerdy media and games in a mural she painted on the second floor.

“It was a bulldog and hockey sticks, so we wanted to put our own spin on things,” Erin said. “We’re going to leave the other one blank and provide chalk for people to come and draw chalk art.”

The Loch Cafe and Games is scheduled to open at 10am on June 18.

This story was updated at 1pm on May 30 with an updated opening date. It was originally posted at 8 a.m. on May 30.

teri cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a general and neighborhood reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. Originally from the Iron Range, Cadeau has worked for various community newspapers in the Duluth area for eight years, including: The Duluth Budgeteer News, Western Weekly, Weekly Observer, Lake County News-Chronicle, and occasionally the Cloquet Pine Journal. When she’s not working, she’s an avid reader and crafter.