When Adam and Karlyn Armbruster switched on the lights of the restored marquee at the Pix on Christmas Eve, they were excited to have something to show the community.
When Adam and Karlyn Armbruster switched on the lights of the restored marquee at the Pix on Christmas Eve, they were excited to have something to show the community — an exciting visual sign that something fun is coming to downtown Sleepy Eye.
Last month, Karlyn Armbruster spoke at the Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, telling the tale of how she and Adam came to buy the Pix and describing their plans for a coffee shop and brewery in the building.
Karlyn recounted how they came to Adam’s home town of Sleepy Eye to begin their medical practices in 2012, after spending the previous four years living in Kansas for training. She said they were thrilled with the opportunity to live in Sleepy Eye and raise their family here.
Karlyn said their interest in the Pix building goes back to their early days in Sleepy Eye. “As we drove through town, we couldn’t help but notice the old buildings, many of which hint at grander days gone by — like the Berg, the Palace, the old City Hall — and of course the Pix,” she said. “We‘d drive by saying, ‘The marquee is so cool.’ ‘I wonder what the inside looks like.’ ‘Someone should do something in there … if not a theater, then what about a coffee shop or a brewery?! Sleepy Eye could really use something like that!’”
As their first few years here passed, Karlyn and Adam would continue to notice the buildings downtown, and continued to wonder, “Why doesn’t ‘someone’ do something with these neat old buildings?”
How did those innocent musings turn in to this new venture for the Armbrusters?
“I got interested in home brewing after I learned how to make wine from a family friend shortly after college,” said Adam. “Not long after that I transitioned into brewing beer, which I have done intermittently ever since. Brewing beer has become a fun hobby and a great way to combine what I learned as a biochemistry major with something that I enjoy doing with friends. It can be as easy as following a recipe with simple ingredients or as complex as you want to make it.”
Karlyn said Adam and his brewing friends starting saying maybe they should open a microbrewery in Sleepy Eye, which she didn’t take too seriously, until Adam said to her, “What if we looked at some buildings downtown?”
Karlyn said she replied, “Well if you are going to have a brewery open on weekends and evenings, then it should be a coffee shop by day, because that would be awesome!”
Adam and Karlyn took the leap and became the “someones” to do something with an old building downtown. They bought the Pix from Dave Haala in November 2017.
The year since then has been filled with developing the building plans, applying for permits, re-roofing the building, and restoring that shiny marquee.
The Pix will house two separate businesses: the Sleepy Eye Coffee Company, and the Sleepy Eye Brewing Company. Karlyn and Adam said they are thrilled to have Dave, (who also grew up in Sleepy Eye), and Samarah Forster return to Sleepy Eye to manage both businesses.
Karlyn said they expect the coffee shop to be open Monday through Saturday, mornings to late afternoon, offering fresh made coffee and espresso drinks, as well as made-from-scratch pastries, sandwiches and soups. Plans for the coffee shop and kitchen have been approved by the health department. Construction in that area is progressing well.
The brewery plans are pending approval with the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. The Armbrusters said the brewery will likely be open Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons and will offer a variety of unique small-batch beers brewed in-house.
“I have been brewing with the group involved in the brewery for awhile now,” said Adam. “We are excited to start brewing on a larger scale and share some of the beers we’ve been working on with the public.”
There will be several seating areas, shared by patrons to either business, including a mezzanine overlooking the main floor. Karlyn and Adam have a vision of a space that will be inviting for families and people of all ages. They want to give customers a unique place to gather socially, for meetings, or for special events.
The Armbrusters said they’ve come a long way with their project since purchasing the building, but still have a lot to do. Their goal is to open for business later this year.