Owner of Babb’s Coffee House says downtown construction is slowing business

DOWNTOWN FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) – The owner of a local coffee shop is speaking out after he says a nearby construction project has greatly slowed down his business.

Since 2022, construction crews, cranes, and heavy machinery can be seen along Main Avenue as Downtown Fargo prepares for a new Bell Bank Headquarters.

The project that’s two years in the making is set to bring in more than 300 employees once completed. If construction doesn’t wrap up soon, those new employees, or anyone in the Fargo-Moorhead area might not get to experience the Seattle-style café.

Parking has become next to impossible as a section of Broadway is completely closed as crews work on the building. Owner, Shawn Gibree, says he rents out limited parking spaces for customers on that exact street, and it’s closure is weighing on his business.

“On an average day, if we make $1000 dollars, lately, we’ve only been making $800. When there’s no construction, we have a lot better sales,” says Gibree.

Babb’s Coffee does not have a drive thru, and Gibree says his loss in sales is directly related to the lack of parking.

A parking lot sits directly in front of the shop, but is not available for Babb’s customers. It’s property of the Northern Pacific Depot only and any violators could be ticketed or towed.

parking lot in front of Babb’s(KVLY)

With it’s Downtown location, parking is usually hard enough but has become worse with the ongoing construction. Company vans can be seen taking up every space where customers would usually park.

Construction vans(KVLY)

“If you can’t park here, you’re going to go somewhere else,” Gibree explains.

The construction has even affected where him and his employees park. “It’s even hard for me to get out. I pay for the spots behind the building for my employees, but if there’s a truck or something there, we can’t even get to the spots we pay for, it’s so frustrating.”

Taking his frustrations online, Gibree posted a photo of the construction, letting customers and the community know they’re still open, and are struggling to get their normal business traffic back. That post has since been shared nearly 100 times.

Babb’s Coffee has also adjusted their hours to closing an hour earlier everyday, due to decreased foot traffic.

Shawn says he understands the construction companies also have jobs to do and there’s no hard feelings. “I’m not trying to throw them under the bus by any means, it’s just frustrating my business is suffering. I bet every business in this strip is somewhat struggling” he says.

Borsheim Crane Service LLC, who’s currently working on the Bell Bank building, responded to Gibree’s Facebook post with this statement:

“We apologize for any inconvenience caused by our crane near Babb’s Coffee House. The recent weather has delayed our schedule, requiring coordination from the main contractor and many subcontractors. As a subcontractor, we don’t get paid or have work for our team during weather delays, so we’re eager to complete this project just like you are. We also love visiting this amazing shop and are looking forward to the completion of this beautiful renovation in Fargo. Thank you for your patience and understanding. Please continue to visit Babb’s Coffee House – they’re open from 7am-5pm and miss seeing you all!”

Gibree and other Babb’s employees are hopeful things will turn around once the street reopens.

“I still think I have the best coffee in town… so come and get it!” Shawn exclaimed.

Babb’s current hours are as follows:

Monday-Thursday: 7a.m. – 5p.m.

Friday: 7a.m. – 6p.m.

Saturday: 8a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday: 9a.m. – 6 p.m.

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