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Kalways buy Sunflower Hill -- Big-screen TV and free computer added to restaurant

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Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Online
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Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Construction is not the only thing transforming the Detroit Lakes business landscape: New Sunflower Hill owners Brad and Karen Kalway have been making a few changes to their downtown coffeehouse as well.

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"Our goal is to try to bring it (Sunflower Hill) back to its past glory. We've added carpet, tablecloths and lamps on the tables," said Bard Kalway. "They were some of the high priority items we knew we wanted to do right away."

Kalways purchased the downtown coffee spot, which is perched at the corner of Holmes Street and Washington Avenue. Karen is also the shop's manager.

" We installed a large screen TV too for our customers so they can catch the latest breaking news or game they might like," commented Karen.

A Wi-Fi Internet hot spot, the local coffee stop also added a free computer onsite for their customers.

"We wanted to give people a place to sit and check e-mail while in town even if they forgot their laptops," added Karen.

With a day job to boot, Brad, who works for AT&T, attends to the new coffee shop venture before and after his full-time vocation. Karen, a gift shop veteran, handles the daily operation.

"I used to own a gift store in Perham and had worked at Sunflower Hill before I left to pursue another business opportunity. I missed working with the public though."

So when the opportunity to purchase Sunflower Hill presented itself a few months back, the Kalways were ready to get back into retail.

"I had worked in retail for a number of years for stores such as Donaldson's, Herbergers and Old America," added Brad. "My goal with this venture is to grow it enough to make it full-time."

With an "under new management" celebration planned for the first week of November, the Kalways are looking to revamp the Sunflower Hill look and menu and add a few new drink selections as well.

"We are offering a new white mocha with shaved white chocolate, a couple of new cider house drinks, pumpkin pie coffee for the month of November and something called 'Bubbles,'" said Karen. "To my knowledge, no one in the area is serving it yet."

A tapioca dessert drink, bubbles is sipped through a special large straw, she explained.

"I was at a coffee shop in the Cities a couple of weeks ago that had a line out the door to get one."

In addition to the new drink compliment, a new menu is also being unveiled this week.

"We added some new salads and sandwiches and even lowered the prices. Not many businesses do that, but we felt it was important," added Brad.

Soon to be offering delivery service, customer service is a top priority. The Kalways have added customer comment cards on the tables.

"We want to have input from our customers, so we put out comment cards," said Brad. "One of our customers mentioned it was hard to talk while the music was playing overhead so we turned it off in the coffee shop during the day. We felt that was a great idea and was happy someone brought it to our attention."

The gift shop is in transition, remarked Karen.

"We are revamping that too. We have been evaluating what other gift shops were doing in town to make sure we are not duplicating what is already being done," she explained.

One of the new items they will be featuring in the new and improved gift emporium is something called "Sticks and Stones" architectural photos of items that look like letters that can be put together to make up words or names.

"They are a lot of fun. We thought they would make great gifts especially for weddings. They were even featured on Oprah," added Karen.

Open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m., Sunflower Hill is truly a family affair. The Kalways' four children help out where they can in the store.

"Our oldest son, who is a senior at Minnesota State University Moorhead, redid the lettering on our tall menu as he was the tallest. He even named one of the new salads. It has kind of been a game to see if anyone can figure out where he got the name 'Lola,'" concluded Brad.

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