Superior’s Small Business Boom

by Felicity Bosk

Doing research for this story at Red Mug – Photo by Felicity Bosk
Doing research for this story at Red Mug – Photo by Felicity Bosk

Some cities have a lot of pizza places, some have a lot of craft breweries, and Superior is about to have a lot of coffee shops/bakeries.

Red Mug has been the most well known place to get a hot drink in Superior for the last 13 years. It’s in the basement of a historic building, promotes local artists, and has a cozy atmosphere. They’re an institution in the twin ports in a way every small business dreams to be.

For a long time their only competition was Big Apple Bagels, but it wasn’t too much competition anyway. Big Apple Bagels specializes in, well, bagels, though they have similar coffee options. They are located six blocks away. They’re style is totally different. They differentiated themselves over the years.

Dunkin Donuts opened up on Tower Ave in 2015. They’re emergence into the Twin Ports came with the opening of some other nation wide chains like Panera Bread and Qdoba. Dunkin’s is basically the same as Red Mug and Big Apple, but it is fast food and has a drive through, something no one else can say about themselves.

In 2014 Superior welcomed A Dozen Excuses, at 1112 N Tower Ave. Nestled between dive bars and the Italian Restaurant Sclavi's (who opened two months later). This breakfast restaurant has focused on their bakery more than coffee and that has been working for them. They also do wholesale pastries and wedding cakes which is another unique market to them in Superior. They even won seventh best doughnuts in the state by Best Things Wisconsin last year.

Future Home of Twisted Pastries Coffeehouse posters on their windows as renovations commence inside – Photo by Felicity Bosk
Future Home of Twisted Pastries Coffeehouse posters on their windows as renovations commence inside – Photo by Felicity Bosk

In February, a new bakery and coffee house will be opening at 1418 N Tower Ave called Twisted Pastries. In March, Empire Coffee will be opening at 1204 N Tower Ave in the Empire Block building. Twisted Pastries will bakery focused, while Empire is going to be like a tap house for coffee.

If you have been paying attention to the news in Superior over the past few months, you have probably noticed that a lot of new businesses have/are opening up. In August, a new video game store opened on N Tower Ave called Games Then and Now. Level Up also on N Tower opened at the end of 2016. The jewelry store Goodiel Beads opened near Globe News in April 2017. KD’s diner has expanded to Superior, opening up in an old Spur store a few weeks ago.

ReMax agent Ryan Bayless posted to facebook last November “Today is a very exciting day! I've been keeping this one pretty quiet, but I found the buyers for the old O'Neill's building on Tower Ave. We closed today, and this spring Superior will get it's first sushi restaurant! I'm extremely excited for the new owners, and what they are bringing to our community. I know the Twin Ports will undoubtedly give them a warm welcome, and bring them success!”

This isn’t to say no one is closing up. O’Neils closed at the end of 2016, and the Epic Lounge just closed as well. Nonetheless it seems like people are seeing the potential in Superior as a market and that residents are investing in their local businesses. From a bystanders point of view, it really looks like business is booming.