Minneapolis skyway cafe owner finds new avenues for revenue as pandemic lull continues

Despite the struggles it has caused, cafe owner Max Broich says the pandemic has also presented some opportunity.

The owner of a skyway café in downtown Minneapolis, who has seen his business get beat up in the pandemic, is finding new ways to bring in cash as he fights to see his cafe through the COVID-19 disruption.

Max Broich owns Max’s Café in the skyway near 2nd Avenue and 3rd Street. He says he loves being right where he’s at, and while the pandemic is taking its toll on his business, it's also allowing him to get a little creative with another venture.

Broich knows how to whip up what his skyway customers like, from a morning latte on the run or a good sandwich for their lunch break. And lately, he’s really gotten to know his customers well.

"I do know everyone that comes in now, it’s the same people every day," said Broich. "I do know them real well and appreciate them coming in."

With many downtown Minneapolis employees holed up at home, foot traffic through the city’s skyways is next to nothing.

"Before 10 a.m., my business has gone from doing hundreds of transactions, down to doing dozens each day," lamented Broich.

The Minneapolis Downtown Council has been tracking the numbers and says about 78 percent of downtown businesses are open in full or at reduced hours. At the same time, 14 percent plan to reopen this spring and summer while eight percent have closed permanently.

While it’s tough to see any kind of business close, Broich says the pandemic has allowed some new ideas to take root.

"With COVID came an opportunity to work on something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time," he explains.

Broich says a popular granola bar in the café’s bakery case that he’s been making for years is getting some more attention. Max's Bars are now being professionally made, packaged, and sold at stores around the state as a way to supplement a dwindling income.

"I always wanted to scale that business up, but I never really had the time," Broich said. "So this has given me the opportunity to put a lot of time and effort into that."

Max is staying hopeful that no matter what happens, things can only get better.

"When times get tough it creates an opportunity for innovation and I just have to keep going, I can’t just shut down and close," said Broich. "I’m not going to do it."

The Minneapolis Downtown Council told us Wednesday that they’re seeing about 16 percent of workers return downtown and that there are some new businesses in the works -- but they can’t offer up too many details quite yet.