Biz Buzz: Coffee shop opens in Dubuque; intermodal terminal alters approach; new business offers tech, e-sports in Elkader

Buz Coffee & Energy owners Tony Hesselman (left) and Jeremy Patrum stand outside of their business in downtown Dubuque. PHOTO CREDIT: Dave Kettering

Biz Buzz shares business tidbits from around the tri-states each Monday. This week, we highlight developments in Dubuque and Elkader, Iowa, and East Dubuque, Ill.

A new business selling gourmet coffee and a variety of other energy-laden beverages is open for business in downtown Dubuque.

Buz Coffee & Energy opens today at the corner of West Second and Locust streets. It occupies the former home of Dubuque Dawgs, a hot dog and sandwich business that resided in the small structure for the majority of the last decade.

Jeremy Patrum, co-owner of Buz Coffee & Energy, thinks the small location suits his business needs just fine.

“It’s just the right size for a coffee shop, and we think it is the right location and has some great visibility,” he said. ”There are a few great coffee options in the downtown, but this is the only one with a drive-thru option in this area.”

Patrum believes that the variety of beverage options also will separate his business from others in the area. In addition to the wide selection of coffee beverages, Buz Coffee & Energy also will serve energy drinks, teas and smoothies.

Customers can place their orders via the drive-thru or by walking up to the window, Patrum said.

Patrum is no stranger to owning downtown businesses.

He previously owned The Venue and Southend Tap, both of which are bars in downtown Dubuque. On his latest venture, Patrum is partnering with co-owner Tony Hesselman.

The realities of COVID-19 could serve as both an advantage and a disadvantage in the early going.

Patrum acknowledged that an uptick in remote working means that fewer will be reporting to work in the downtown, thus putting a dent in the new operation’s customer base.

On the other hand, Patrum thinks customers might prefer a business that features pick-up options and limits contact with other customers.

The business is open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days per week.

CONTACTLESS DELIVERY

An intermodal terminal near the Mississippi River has adopted new strategies to limit in-person interactions during the pandemic.

Joe Bitter, general manager at Logistics Park Dubuque, said the terminal has created a series of new policies that allow those visiting the site to conduct necessary business without coming into contact with any workers there.

Logistics Park Dubuque, which is actually located in East Dubuque, Ill., off Barge Terminal Road, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alliant Energy. It serves as a location where trains and barges can drop off materials that later will be transferred to semi-tractor trailers, and vice versa.

Given the nature of such transactions, there sometimes would be more than 100 people — predominantly truck drivers — stopping at the park daily to conduct business. These workers would typically step down from their vehicles, converse with staff and physically sign a document.

Logistics Park recently implemented a contact-less method through which visitors can speak with staff members via radio or phone. Visitors to the park are no longer required to physically sign a document.

“It has worked really well and made things more efficient,” said Bitter. “We are quite sure we will keep this in place once COVID departs.”

Bitter emphasized that the altered approach not only protects employees at the logistics park, but also looks out for the well-being of the truck drivers.

“The way we explained it to them is, ‘You are really the backbone of our country right now’,” Bitter recalled. “And we need to do everything we can to keep you safe.”

MAKING AN IMPACT

A multi-faceted business with an emphasis on both technology and education is making waves since opening in Elkader.

Ambitek Learning opened its doors at 107 W. Bridge St. last month.

Founder Donte Dorsey explained that the business provides information technology certificates, participates in e-sports contests, offers business-to-business computer assistance and sells high-end gaming equipment and other products.

Dorsey, a native of Florida, said the Elkader location marks the sixth that Ambitek has opened nationwide.

“I go to each location and personally oversee the opening,” he said. “I like to work with the communities and be there if there are any problems or questions.”

From an educational standpoint, Ambitek offers a unique alternative for those seeking to enter the workforce or up their skills. The business partners with organizations such as Microsoft and provides students with a level of expertise that enhances their skillset and desirability in the job market.

Furthermore, the emphasis on e-sports has made the business a popular location in Elkader.

Ambitek has three employees and is looking to hire more, Dorsey said.

Dorsey is surprised by the success Ambitek has seen since opening.

“I love the small-town feel and love the people here,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to be as big as it is right now.”

Ambitek is open from noon to midnight Tuesday through Saturday. It can be reached at 866-262-4835.