The only thing better than a steamy, creamy cappuccino for your blurry-eyed morning commute is having that hot cup of java handed to you by a cheerful barista through a cute little drive-thru window (along with a freshly baked scone, perhaps) while you stay toasty warm in your car.
Enter Mudslingers Drive-Thru Coffee. Opening mid-December at Lexington Avenue and County Road B in Roseville, Mudslingers will serve customers fancy coffee drinks, organic chai, all-natural fruit smoothies and baked goods, just as its sister shop in Burnsville has been doing since June.
What the tiny shop lacks in comfort, it makes up for in convenience and quality. There is no seating at either shop, and unlike the Burnsville location, the new Roseville spot doesn’t even have counter service. It’s all about fast and easy accessibility and a great cup of coffee, any time of the day.
Owners Vince Hunt and Van Harvieux decided to open Mudslingers after Harvieux approached Hunt, a fellow mortgage broker, about the idea. Harvieux had seen many such venues on the West Coast, and it was an easy sell for Hunt, a Como Park resident who had considered participating in such a venture a couple of decades prior.
After many months of research, the business partners found Mudslingers, a coffee drive-thru brand that provides business owners with expert advice and assistance.
“They have been so supportive,” Hunt said. “They came out and helped us scout locations, and they helped us with the oftentimes treacherous process of obtaining permits and jumping through many hoops.”
The first location the partners settled on was a pre-existing, foreclosed drive-thru shop in Burnsville. The building had been vacant for a long time and was in rough shape by the time the two purchased it, but after a lot of hard work, Mudslingers’ Burnsville location opened last summer on the corner of Highway 13 and County Road 5.
The business quickly garnered eager regulars, but soon after it opened the highway next to the shop was torn apart for construction. Business suffered.
“For a while, there was a giant mountain of dirt right next to us,” said Hunt. “Drivers couldn’t see our beautiful building.”
Things are slowly turning around at the Burnsville location now that construction is over, Hunt said, and the partners are excited about their Roseville location.
Although they are using the Mudslinger moniker, Harvieux and Hunt feel strongly about using locally sourced products as much as possible. For the Roseville shop, which was built on an empty lot where a Clark gas station once stood, the partners hired local architect Häns Schmidt of HjS Architecture to design the low-footprint building. Schmidt created a simple structure that will allow easy access to two drive-thru windows.
“Häns did a great job meeting the many challenges of designing a building this size within all the code restraints,” explained Hunt. “For example, we have to have seven sinks to meet code, and that was tough in a space this small.”
For their coffee, the team partnered with Minneapolis-based B+W Specialty Coffee, a small-batch coffee roaster specializing in Fair Trade coffee and will offer baked goods from Como’s own The April Fool Bakery.
Starting a new business can be extremely challenging, but Hunt’s and Harvieux’s families have been hands-on since the beginning. Several family members, including Hunt’s wife and Harvieux’s father and sister, went through training at B+W in case they needed to fill in on a shift—or 12.
“I want to get in there and work alongside everyone else. As soon as my schedule permits, I’ll start working on my foam art,” Kate Hunt said with a laugh.
Harvieux’s father, Tom, used to own Tommy’s Café in Stillwater, and although he is retired, he makes the early morning drive to Burnsville most days to serve customers with the same warm and generous hospitality he bestowed upon the diners at his own café.
“It is really a family-run business,” Kate said. Head barista Benjamin Gifford was introduced to the team by a friend and now manages both locations.
“Benjamin is amazing,” Hunt said. “He brings 15 years of experience with him, and he has been a tremendous asset to us.”
Even the Hunts’ young sons have gotten in on the action, whipping up smoothies like old pros, much to the delight of customers.
Alex Lodner is a freelance writer who lives in the Como Park neighborhood.