Take a quick drive to explore nearby towns.
MANY OF US WHO LIVE IN ROCHESTER PASS BY ORONOCO AND PINE ISLAND ON A REGULAR BASIS WHEN DRIVING TO OR FROM THE TWIN CITIES ON U.S. HIGHWAY 52. HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN THE PINE ISLAND OR ORONOCO EXITS TO EXPLORE THE AREA? HERE ARE THREE PLACES YOU CAN CHECK OUT NORTH OF ROCHESTER.
BETTY SUE’S BETTER BREW CAFÉ
Betty Sue’s Better Brew Café is a bustling coffee shop in the heart of Pine Island. On a Saturday morning, it is filled with people chatting, having a hearty breakfast and drinking coffee or espresso drinks. The cafe offers homemade meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as homemade desserts such as pies and cakes.
Owner Bobbi Jo Kennedy says she bought the cafe in July 2017. “My husband is from Pine Island, and my girls are getting older, and it seemed like a good time. We wanted good food for Pine Island people.” Kennedy has lived in Pine Island for more than 20 years and her family–including her husband, their three daughters and her mother–also work at the cafe with her.
“Everything is homemade,” Kennedy explains. She says she tries to buy local and that most items are from Pine Island. When describing the food, Kennedy says, “It’s home-cooked comfort food…I wanted to offer things your grandma made.”
To find out about the daily specials or to learn more, check out Betty Sue’s Better Brew Café on Facebook.
FIREFLY FARM AND CATCHING FIREFLIES RETREATS
Just outside of Pine Island, right off Highway 52, sits Firefly Farm, a store located in a renovated house. It offers items including a large variety of scrap booking, stamping and card-making supplies, jewelry, seasonal decor, repurposed items, candles, DIY craft projects and more.
Trisha Studer bought the house about a year ago and renovated it, opening in June 2017. “I wanted to have a store that was a destination,” explains Studer. “I’ve been wanting to do this since college.”
The basement, called the Cellar, has tables and work spaces for a variety of classes. Studer explains that Firefly Farm “fills a need for scrap booking and card-making. There aren’t any other options in southeast Minnesota.” She hosts craft retreats at Catching Fireflies Retreats, which is about an hour away.
For more information, check out Firefly Farm and Catching Fireflies Retreats on Facebook.
SEASONS HOME ACCENTS & IDEAS
Located near Oronoco, not far from Highway 52, Seasons offers home decor, seasonal items, repurposed furniture, prints, clocks, tabletop items and gifts. Jodi Hart, who opened Seasons five years ago, says, “I was decorating in people’s homes part-time, and I decided to take the plunge and start my own business,”
Seasons is opened occasionally through the year. “I decorate according to the season,” Hart explains. “The store is transformed every season. It gets totally cleared out and reset.” Hart says that when it reopens on April 4, “It will be filled with spring and summer decor, stems and everyday items for your decorating needs.”
In addition to offering a variety of home decor for sale, Hart explains that the store is set up to give people decorating ideas for their own homes. “I decorate the store how you’d decorate your house,” Hart says. “It gives people a visual concept of decorating.”
For more information, check out the Seasons Home Accents & Décor Facebook page or their website at seasonsbyjodi.com.
TAKE A DRIVE
Grab some friends or head out for a drive, and go check out these and other businesses in Oronoco and Pine Island. You just might find your new favorite shop or cafe!
Alison Rentschler is a writer and editor living in Rochester.