Down Home, Downtown

By Erica Anderson
MSUM print journalism major
Photos by Melissa Muehlbauer

 Josie’s Corner Cafe and Bake shop, located in Sixth Avenue and Broadway in Fargo.

 Fargo’s Broadway Street is in constant change, updating to be newer, more sophisticated. With Scan Design’s sleek, modern dining room tables and ecce contemporary’s minimalistic gallery, Broadway has become Fargo’s hub for culture and art. But way on the end, past the students doing homework at Atomic Coffee, the time old Zandbroz and the usual crowd at the Bismarck Tavern bar is a tiny little piece of small-town on the corner of Seventh Avenue and Broadway called Josie’s Corner Café and Bake Shop.


Tracy Walvatne, owner of Josie’s Corner Cafe and Bake Shop, stands beside a picture of her grandmother, Josie, of whome the cafe was named after.

Getting back to their roots
Tracy and Randy Walvatne have owned the corner space, once known as Cynthia’s Custom Cakes, for five years now. Tracy, with a hotel and restaurant management degree from NDSU, had worked in sales 17 years prior while Randy cooked in a restaurant and was into carpentry. Wanting to get back into the business, the Walvatnes decided to open a small café, plugging Josie’s Corner Café and Bake Shop in as a downtown fixture.


The view from Josie’s corner windows looks on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s vast structure.

Grandma’s inspiration
Tracy had always loved the name Josie. When it was time to name the café, Tracy called her mother to ask if it was all right to name it after her grandmother.

“(Mom) started to weep and said ‘she would love that,’ ” Tracy said.

Josie’s picture can be seen behind counter in the little café. The collage above the door consists of antiques that Josie once used in her kitchen.

The shelf above the door holds antiques that were once used in Josie’s kitchen.

Home cooking
“When you (went) to your grandma’s, what would you eat?” Tracy asks. Mashed potatoes, grilled cheese and tomato soup, waffles for breakfast? Josie’s has them all.

“Its comfort food … people get excited about it,” Tracy said.

Randy does 100 percent of the baking and 90 percent of the cooking. The café is close-knit, with the Walvatnes employing four people who have been working together almost since the café opened. One employee is the Walvatne’s daughter.

“Its really like a family,” Tracy said. “You just don’t find that everywhere.”

Josie’s sells baked goods like pies, bars and biscotti wholesale.

Shipping out the goodies
The bakery side of Josie’s is the wholesale part, supplying biscotti, bars and other baked goods to Luna Coffee, Northstar kiosks in Fargo, Bella Café in Park Rapids, Minn., and Dutton’s Gallery in Valley City.

“Biscotti are twice-baked cake and a lot of the time they are hard but these (from Josie’s) melt in your mouth with the hot beverage,” said Bonnie Dutton, owner of Dutton’s Gallery. “There is a nice variety of flavors and it’s all North Dakota-based; it’s an excellent product.”

Dutton’s orders biscotti and cookies from Josie’s. “We call them when we are low and place our order” and then drive to Fargo to pick up the goods, Dutton said. “It would be nice if they would ship, but we don’t mind going in. And sometimes you have to do that for a good product.”

Randy Walvatne, owner, does 100 percent of the baking for Josie’s.

Josie’s also does off-site catering as well as hosting events like murder-mystery parties, cooking classes, graduation parties and, in the evenings, book clubs, jewelry parties and company Christmas parties. Being open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays, evening events are very much welcomed, according to Tracy.

Josie’s displays local art, rotating artistic work tri-monthly.

“I want to celebrate local art”
Josie’s supports local artists by displaying paintings, photographs and other art in the café. Rotating the art every three to four months, the Walvatnes like to give the artist an open house besides an evening “gallery opening” and supplying coffee and cookies free of charge.

“Our gift is having the art on the wall,” Tracy said.

All the goods on the lunch and bakery menue at Josie’s are made from scratch.

On the front of every menu is this statement about Josie’s: “Tastes from the past with a fresh flair. Our restaurant offers scratch baked goods made from recipes handed down from Downtown Fargo generations past, fresh lunch items, and espresso bar beverages. We specialize in custom baking, so don’t be shy about asking us to bake your grandmother’s best recipe.”

Also made at Josie’s is a variety of gormet coffee drinks.


 Visit Josie’s Corner Cafe and Bake Shop’s Facebook page

The Downtowner
FM Partnership


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