When you look for treasure, what is it you’re really looking for?
Riches? Maybe. Fame? Unlikely. Stories? Oh, yes, the stories.
Think about it: When you find an unusual or valuable object, what do you want to do? You want to know where it came from, who owned it before. You want to place it in an era to understand the maker’s worldview. You turn it over in your hand, wondering what kinds of stories it witnessed, how many miles it traveled.
On a recent quiet morning at Kutzky Market and Forager Brewery, I found myself distracted — not by the patrons, but by the artifacts in the place, which all seemed to be telling their own wild and beautiful stories all at once.
Almost everything you see here has a previous life, from the light fixtures, tap pulls, the bar, even the very walls.
Story, it seems, is really at the heart of this adventurous restaurant/brewery/coffee shop/cocktail bar/artisan market/pop-up restaurant. As a concept and as a staff who believes in what they’re doing, the Forager folks elevate story, and they honor history.
When asked, co-owner Annie Henderson launches easily into the various stories of the pieces around the space, including the story of how the “forager” concept came to be the central theme of their work.
Head brewer Austin Jevne is passionate about foraging and gets his brewing inspiration from the region and local sources; executive chef Jordan Bell is dedicated to using local ingredients to their fullest, rotating featured items to showcase in-season items; and Henderson was doing all the interior design herself on a very small budget.
The pieces came together from here and there, sometimes slowly and often needing repairs.
“It took a lot of extra work, but it cost a lot less,” says Henderson of the eclectic décor.
And yet, somehow, it all came together perfectly — with each piece living its history and telling the story of a new community gathering space in Rochester with a very bright future.
Daniel the Moose
The moose mounted over the bar belonged to the Paine (Furniture) family, and has been in local antique expert John Kruesel’s hands for many years. “Cedric Paine’s grandpa shot it in the late 1800s,” says Henderson. “We call him Daniel.”
The beer tap handles are all 100-year-old tools, including the end of a fishing rod and a whisky barrel tapper. A friend of Henderson’s found them at a Gold Rush sale and turned them into tap handles for the bar.
Recognize this bar, longtime Rochesterites? It was at the Rochester Golf and Country Club before it was removed 20 years ago. A Forager bartender, Bill Waldron, bought the bar years ago and sold it to Forager when he started working there. “Lots of people from the Country Club like seeing the bar here,” says Henderson.
The huge iron chandelier’s first home was in the Goodhue Dance Hall. “My grandparents used to go to dancing there on Saturday nights,” says Henderson. “They had a 65 cent buffet.” The Forager team repurposed the fixture, which now hangs in the center of their main dining room.
Gargoyle light fixtures
Many area diners have sat under these fixtures before. They used to hang above the bar at Pappageorge’s Taverna, part of the historic Michael’s Restaurant in downtown Rochester. Henderson picked the fixtures up at their auction. “We redesigned the entire dining room after we bought these,” says Henderson. “We wanted them long and linear so when you walk into the space, you see this really cool piece.”
Beams, barnwood walls, sliding barn doors, gazebo, pergola, planters
Almost all the wood you see featured around the different Forager spaces were taken from the last farm standing in the middle of Rochester — the Till Farm, which was just north of Lourdes High School. “Jack Remick allowed us to spend three weeks out at the farm, tearing stuff down,” says Henderson.
This ornate wainscoting was originally in a Rochester post office that has been torn down — and if you look closely, you’ll see the connection. “The six different panels of wainscoting tell the story of the postal service,” explains Henderson. “In the middle of each one, you can see the progression from biking to cars and airplanes, the whole process.”
The benches lining the divide between the dining room and lounge (and under the gargoyles) are slabs of walnut hand-picked by Henderson and Forager co-owner Sean Allen.
Front door bell
This came from the original Rochester fire station and was given to Forager by John Kruesel.
The windows used to hang in Saint Marys Auditorium and were given to Forager by John Kruesel.
Teacup chandelier in coffee shop
This is a handmade item by Henderson (with help from her mom). “We serve our pizzas on old china plates, so I was buying all these china sets,” explains Henderson. “But they all come with 10 teacups because people apparently drink tea constantly.” Instead of just tossing them out (and how could honest foragers think of doing that?), “I created this teacup cloud,” she says.