Mugby Junction fuels students on and off campus

Allison Mueller

Kate Simonet, a Winona State student, grabs a coffee at Mugby Junction. (Photo by Susan Torkelson)
Kate Simonet, a Winona State student, grabs a coffee at Mugby Junction. (Photo by Susan Torkelson)

Elizabeth Pulanco/Winonan

During the first week of classes students are rushing around campus to find the perfect place to grab a quick bite or hang around between classes. For many students, Mugby Junction, a Winona-based business with several locations around the city, happens to be that place.

Mugby Junction’s first location popped up in 2003 as a drive-thru on Mankato Avenue. According to owner Carew Halleck, the plan for the coffee shop was a string of drive-thru spots around Winona.

When developing the coffee shop, Halleck drew from his English major roots and named the café after a set of short stories written by literature legend Charles Dickens.

The Mugby Junction location on Huff Street was never a part of Halleck’s plan. “I could never imagine it,” Halleck said. “But when the lot opened up on Huff Street, we jumped at the opportunity.”

With the Huff Street Mugby Junction addition, Halleck and his staff have tried to create a welcoming, artistically interesting and pleasantly fragrant atmosphere.

The organic, fair trade coffee that is freshly brewed adds to the aroma in the café. The artistic charms can be seen in the different train themed objects around the shop that are not only a reference to the source of the company’s name, but also to the close location to the train tracks. The dimly lit lanterns and chandelier create the feeling that customers are stepping into a fancy railcar that would have been used during Dickens’ time.

Halleck again tapped into his English major past by adding poetry and famous quotes on the design of the coffee shop’s paper cups.

The well-traveled wood floors also show evidence of Mugby Junction’s popularity. Students, including first time visitor Hannah Crawford, have a good sense of the coffee shop’s atmosphere.

“It is a nice place, and is comfy and homey,” Crawford, a Winona State University freshman, said. “I can tell I’m going to be spending a lot of time here.”

Junior Gwen Dunst, who has also been to the Mugby Junction location in Somsen Hall, has been able to compare her experiences at both spots.

“I like to come here between classes and study because things are more relaxed,” Dunst said. “The Somsen location is a bit busier and things seem more rushed.”

The Mugby Junction in Somsen Hall is located on the first floor, and is smaller than its Huff Street counterpart. The dim lanterns are replaced with bright fluorescent lights, and students on-the-go replace the lounging students.

“People are in and out,” freshman Katie Stein said.

The Somsen Hall Mugby Junction has the same menu as the Huff Street location, though the Somsen Mugby contains coolers with snacks and other beverages.

In all three of the Mugby Locations, Carew Halleck said that 80 to 90 percent of the employees are students, and after they graduate, many come back and continue to work at Mugby Junction.

For the future of Mugby Junction, Halleck has made it clear that there is no big expansion plan.

The plan is actually quite simple.

“We want to keep doing what we’re doing and get better at it,” Halleck said.

Halleck has enjoyed having his business close to campus. Even though summer business is slow, there is always the rush of customers to look forward to when the fall semester starts.

Since the school year has officially started, all Mugby locations are full of life and full of students that are ready to be caffeinated. As more and more coffee-drinking Warriors pass through campus, Mugby Junction will continue to be a part of the Winona State experience.