The faint scent of coffee grounds lingers in the air if you drive by the plant today, but the end of an era is coming.
The 37,500 square-foot building at 5725 Highway 7—long a coffee manufacturing plant—is . Current owner Sara Lee is shifting its coffee-making operations overseas, making the St. Louis Park plant obsolete.
According to the St. Louis Park Historical Society, the building started producing coffee in 1977, when McGarvey Coffee—owned by Superior Coffee and Foods—moved to town after 55 years in Minneapolis. McGarvey Coffee did quite well in St. Louis Park. By the mid-1980s, McGarvey's products were used in 70 percent of restaurants in the Upper Midwest, according to a 2001 Star-Tribune obituary for former owner Robert McGarvey, Jr.
Sara Lee bought the plant from the McGarveys in 1991 and continued producing coffee. But, according to a Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal report, the coffee manufacturing business has been impacted in recent years by the foodservice industry's shift to Starbucks and other brand-name coffees. Sara Lee will continue to market coffee to consumers in Europe and Brazil, a company spokesman said, but the North American focus will turn to meat production, namely Sara Lee brands such as Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean.
The building will be put up for sale, but at this point, no specifics have emerged regarding potential future tenants. Undoubtedly, the space will be of some value, as it is fairly close to where the proposed Southwest Light Rail line would run.
If the plant doesn't stay in the coffee industry, now might be the time for a quick drive down the Highway 7 Service Road with the window open, just to catch a whiff of history.