While the carefully curated drink selections offer premium and unique brews, the goal of being a community accessible to anyone remains at the heart of the Urban.
“We don’t want to ever be that place where people walk in and don’t know how or what to order,” Jonathan said.
“But we think we can walk the line of being the place for the people who want that higher-end coffee shop and being that place to go and just get a cup of coffee.”
Kelly Thompson and Patti Eider opened the Urban in 1993 and built it on a foundation of kindness and community. They knew they were leaving it in good hands.
When they sold last spring, however, they noted that one thing was missing: marketing. Seeing an opportunity, the new owners have tapped into their own areas of expertise to boost business. For International Coffee Day, they produced a tongue-in-cheek social media video for their pour-over coffee. It featured a winking Jonathan brewing a cup to the tune of an original song written and sung by Justin with lyrics like “Pour over coffee; the most sensual way to brew coffee.”
A digital billboard at Demers and Washington faces a Starbucks, declaring, “Drive past this corner and go downtown for a splash of local soul.”
Heart of the community
Adding to the aesthetic of the Urban is the “World’s Smallest Art Gallery” tucked away in the northwest corner. Local artwork adorns the walls throughout the shop. Next door, painter and sculptor Adam Kemp works in his studio, frequently stopping by to swap out a painting or two, even giving the Urban an original piece as a welcome gift. A sculpture by Guillermo “Memo” Guardia serves as a conversation starter for curious minds.
It’s part of the fabric that makes the Urban a vibrant but homey place to meet, gather, and study.
More alumni-owned coffee shops:
The Urban Stampede is but one local coffee shop owned and operated by UND alumni.
Archives Coffee House, owned by Kyle Thorson, '11, '15, is right on campus at 3012 University Ave.
Bully Brew, owned by Sandi Luck, '05, has four locations in Grand Forks, East Grand Forks, and Fargo.
Both are great supporters of UND and our students.