Business and community service a dream for Perrine

The delightful decor of The Monarch Coffee House is complemented by orange furnishings and butterflies that represent the transformation of both the building and people in general.

By Robert Williams


Downtown Frazee is seeing a renaissance in 2024 with multiple food and beverage options opening in the coming weeks and Heather and Travis Perrine’s The Monarch Coffee House created a stir and parking issues on Main Avenue during a “soft opening” Wednesday evening that quickly turned into a packed house.  ¶  The soft run was a training session for Heather and her nine employees and all 10 got an early showing of how much people in town want more places to go and more businesses to support.  ¶  “Before 4 p.m., people were actually waiting in the entryway,” Perrine said. “So, clocking in for the first time and then just boom, we’re hitting the ground running.”  ¶  The employees had already worked with the equipment and made drinks and were familiar with the menu, but had never prepared anything for the public and it was a baptism by fire as a constant line of customers waited to be served.

Owner Heather Perrine’s cousin Lindsi Erickson captured the metamorphosis of a monarch’s life cycle in a freehand drawing and painted mural that dominates the western wall of the coffee shop.

“They rocked it last night; I’d like to say it was a soft opening, but that was not a soft opening,” Perrine laughed. “We figured if last night was to go well we would continue with the grand opening.”

The Monarch Coffee House officially opened for business 36 hours later on Friday, March 8.

As recently as August of 2022, the Frazee community was faced with potentially having no restaurant options until David and Debbie Streiff purchased The Palace Cafe and have enjoyed immense support from the community since. That same support was out in full force Wednesday night.

Prior to Friday’s grand opening, The Monarch Coffee House was filled to capacity during a “soft open” held from 4-7 p.m., on Wednesday, March 6.

“It’s definitely fun to see this kind of revolution,” said Perrine. “We’re changing Frazee over. It’s big changes for our community but our community needs big changes and it’s time for more of us to step up and make our downtown delightful and a place that people want to come.”

The Streiffs, in an October 2023 interview with the Forum, were encouraging others to bring more dining options to town.

“I welcome friendly competition,” said Debbie. “I’m excited that the town of Frazee is growing a little bit. That will just bring more people to this town.”

The Monarch Coffee House owner Heather Perrine is fulfilling a lifelong dream to own a business and serve the community in her hometown of Frazee.

The Monarch and The Palace will soon be joined by the bistro at CornerStone Community and Youth Center, scheduled to open in April, the Gobbler Grub and Pub on East Main and new Third Crossing manager Amanda Young has added weekday daily specials to the municipal bar’s menu.

Being one of the leaders to help change the face of dining in Frazee has always been in the back of Heather Perrine’s mind.

“I always dreamed of being my own business owner and just providing a service for our community,” she said.

The old bank building has also been in her eye and the two coming together is the perfect amalgamation to bring her dream to reality.

“It’s always been a building that I admired,” she said. “Growing up in Frazee, I’ve always been drawn to this building. It’s the perfect location for a business and throughout the years we’ve waited patiently and watched it turn into all the other things that it has been. We watched this building as we grew up here as a bank, a thrift store, we watched it sit empty; it’s been an antique store, a realtor’s office; it’s been a lot of different things and it just keeps evolving.”

It was the history of the bank building and its transformations, along with the changes Travis and Heather were bringing that manifested the business name.

The couple were enjoying a quick weekend getaway and stayed their first night at the Monarch Casino Resort Spa in Black Hawk, Colorado, just west of Denver.

“I had already been thinking of names; I just wasn’t 100 percent set on what I wanted,” said Perrine. “Well, their carpet was so cool. It was butterflies and as we were talking throughout dinner I said, ‘You know what reminds me of a monarch,…the bank!’ We had already owned it and were remodeling the other parts of the building.”

Perrine pushed that metaphor from the building’s existence to everyone’s.

“That’s kind of how we are with life; we start and we have to go through each stage of life,” she said. “Some of them, we aren’t always pretty, but in the end, we’ve got a beautiful thing going on here.”

Part of the inner beauty of the new coffee shop was provided by a family member in Lindsi Erickson, a cousin of Heather’s. Erickson captured the metamorphosis of a monarch’s life cycle in a freehand drawing and painted mural that decorates the west wall of the coffee shop. 

“Within an hour, she had drawn up two different examples for me and we saw this one and it was go time,” Perrine said. “She nailed it. We love it.”

The months of renovation would not have been possible without help from former building owners Amber and Brad Bender. 

“On a whim, my husband and I were talking one evening and we wondered if Amber and Brad would ever sell it,” Perrine said.

She called the Benders and got a surprising yes to her inquiry but it came with a caveat.

“She said she wanted to sell it to somebody that was going to do something that was going to be beneficial for Frazee,” said Perrine. “We told her what our thoughts and hopes were and within a few weeks we were closed on it. It happened fast.”

The Perrines had an all-encompassing idea on how to benefit the community by including as many local businesses and people with local ties to help in the changes they were going to make to the building.

Tyler Aho of Pine Cone Interiors of Frazee installed the flooring.

“He was phenomenal to work with; they did the install and he helped us with picking out colors and styles,” said Perrine.

Hanson’s Plumbing and Heating of Vergas completed the plumbing work. Andy Foster of FM Electric, a Frazee alum who graduated with Travis, completed the electrical work.

“It was important to us to try to use as many local vendors as we possibly could,” said Perrine. “OK Lumber saw us down there a number of times.”

During the process, Perrine also found herself meeting new members of the community.

“It’s amazing to me, growing up here, I know most people and their parents, grandparents and sometimes their great grandparents, but through this process of getting everything ready people would randomly stop in and some of them were just to check things out, others to see if we were open, but there were quite a few of them that I didn’t know and didn’t recognize,” she said. “I wasn’t really anticipating that.”

Those soon-to-be regulars can enjoy The Monarch Coffee House seven days a week. Business hours are scheduled for Monday through Friday 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., on Saturday and Sundays.