Every town should have at least one coffee shop that feels like a second “home,” and Walker Bay Coffee has filled the bill for the past 16 years.
In her younger days, Deb Holloway, owner of Walker Bay Coffee, was quite the adventurous type. Still, she managed to put her cooking skills to good use.
“I worked at Voyageur Outward Bound School in Ely as an intern, then an instructor, then was cook for three summers,” she relates.
Before her daughter came along, Deb had taken three intensive Outward Bound courses. She hiked the Rockies, whitewater rafted down the Rogue River in Oregon, then took a three-month course that started in Ely with winter camping, dog sledding and cross-country skiing to Canada and back. Next, down to Texas for rock climbing and desert hiking. Finally, whitewater canoeing the Rio Grande.
“What an adventure!”
For the past 29 years, Deb has lived in the Leech Lake area, 23 of them in Hackensack. For six years she worked at WHA School as a Special Ed para.
After that she moved on to become head cook at Deep Portage Learning Center east of Hackensack for another six years.
On Nov. 1, 2004, Deb tackled another type of adventure: business ownership. With the help of her brother, she bought Walker Bay Coffee, then located on the corner where Thrifty White Drug is now.
When another downtown business closed in February 2006, Walker Bay Coffee relocated to 609 Minnesota Avenue — a move Deb calls “lucky.”
“Being in the middle of the busiest block in Walker means we get a lot of foot traffic,” she explains.
The chalk menu board lists dozens of breakfast and lunch specialties: breakfast sandwiches, salads, grilled panini sandwiches and a selection of vegetarian options, including gluten free bread or bagels.
“Our espresso drinks are many; anywhere from a plain latte to a ‘Grumpy Banker,’” Deb relates. “We also have hot cider, hot chocolates, steamers, hot tea and a selection of chais.”
There also are blended coffee drinks called “brain freezes,” and non-coffee blended drinks or “frappes,” fruit based smoothies. The store also sells coffee beans, boxed tea, chaga and different tinctures.
A small but tempting bakery case at the front of the store is filled with muffins, scones, raspberry cream cheese croissants and homemade cinnamon and caramel rolls. While Walker Bay doesn’t technically offer catering, Deb will work with customer who needs large coffee and bakery orders “to go.”
Currently the shop is open seven days a week: Monday through Friday, 7:30-3; Saturday, 7:30-4; and Sunday, 8-2.
”We were very blessed during these weird [COVID] times,” Deb says. “I only closed on Sundays and the rest of the time, we were open for take-out only. Currently we are open at 50 percent capacity for dine-in. But if you feel that is too crowded, we do to-go orders.
“Just call us at 547-1183 and we’ll have it ready so your time inside the store is limited.”
After 16 years, Deb Holloway is ready for another adventure. Walker Bay Coffee is currently listed for sale. Once it sells, Deb will also sell her house and move to Baxter to be closer to her daughter and grandson.
“This has been a great place for me to be,” she declares,” but now it is time to move on. I have made some awesome friends and will come back often to have a cup of coffee with you!”
That’s a promise her Walker friends will definitely hold her to.