Hangin’ With Klecko: Neighborhood Rhythm at Caydence Records & Coffee
Mat Graske (left) and Chad Medellin, two of the three owners of Caydence Records and Coffee. Not pictured is Gregg Schmitt.
Friends, let me tell you a story of inspiration that started several years ago when a man named Mat Graske was visiting Miami.
As Mat explains it: “I walked into this store called Sweat Records, and after spending a short time there, I realized I wanted to be doing what they were doing more than what I was doing. Sweat is a lot more than a record store, it’s a neighborhood hub where people get together and build community at countless back alley events.”
So when Mat came back to Minnesota, he quit his job and convinced his friends Chad Medellin and Gregg P. Schmitt to join him as owner-operators of what would become Caydence Records and Coffee at 900 Payne Avenue in St. Paul.
Mat continued describing the vision: “The original focus was to sell vinyl, but after running the numbers we decided it would be tough to make ends meet just by selling albums, so after doing some careful research we realized this neighborhood didn’t have many coffee options. Payne Avenue has 8,000 daily commuters so it didn’t take us long to realize that coffee and vinyl would be a nice fit.”
The three partners got to work, and with their own hands built arguably the nicest looking coffee shop in St. Paul.
Chad ran down the details: “The hardest part was getting the counter in; it’s granite and we got it from a Cinnabon store and it took four of us to carry it in here.”
As he said this I could see from Mat’s facial expression that the task was painful to even think about.
Chad continued: “The table stands we got from Chatterbox and the table tops we made from wooden pallets picked up at Ace Hardware. The cushions on the seats were made from the bags our coffee was shipped in.”
Mat chimed in to finish the description: “The only thing in here original is the pressed tin ceiling.”
And with that, my hosts urged me toward the back of the shop and through what looked like a secret passage. When we crossed over to the other side, I was delighted as Mat explained: “This used to be a pizza kitchen, but we’ve turned it into a meeting space/art gallery. We’ve already had a few shows that have drawn in more of the neighborhood than we hoped for. Down the road I’m hoping that Caydence will become the East Side’s Saturday night entertainment destination spot.”
Chad nodded and escorted me back into the coffee shop—or more precisely into the midst of the vinyl—and lit up as he explained: “One morning at about 7:30, I was working the counter when a woman walked into the store. When I asked her what she wanted to drink, she told me that she didn’t like coffee; she wanted to see if we had any Marvin Gaye albums.”
A big grin covered Chad’s face as he continued: “I mean think about that. This woman was out looking for albums before breakfast, that’s dedication. It made me feel good to be a part of that.”
Mat added: “Yeah, how can you not enjoy your workday if you’re surrounded by interesting people? We’ve only been open for four months and already I’ve heard stories from customers telling me how they were at The Doors’ Miami concert when Jim Morrison exposed himself, and there’s another guy who told us he used to step over Bob Dylan every morning when he’d stretch out at a Dinkytown bus stop.”
Mark Healey from Badfinger is also a neighbor. Apparently he went from rock stardom to living on Dayton’s Bluff.
Now that everybody was comfortable and having a good time, I delivered the question I came to ask: “Gentlemen, is this a record store that serves coffee, or a coffee shop that sells vinyl?”
For a brief moment there was silence until Chad shrugged and Mat answered: “It depends on the week. To make this place work, coffee will have to be the backbone, but record sales are getting better all the time. Currently, vinyl is on track to do a billion dollars this year [across the industry]. That hasn’t happened since the ‘80s.”
When I asked about current inventory, Chad said maybe it was more than coincidence that most of the 3,000 albums and 1,500 CDs they have for sale is music they actually enjoy listening to. As he held up a Sonny and Cher album, Mat explained: “75 percent of our vinyl is vintage, and the remainder of our stock is repressed editions. I really think vinyl is back to stay. People are beginning to remember the value of physical media. I think they are starting to enjoy having the opportunity to listen to albums from start to finish, and is there anything better than enjoying the giant artwork on album covers?”
As Mat stepped off his musical soapbox, I stared at him and Chad in silence, and just when that length verged on awkward, I looked toward the wall, where a large stuffed moose head hung, and asked: “I’ll bet there’s a story behind the moose, huh?”
Mat and Chad erupted in laughter, and as Chad smiled, he said it was Mat’s story to tell.
“That’s Elmo, I guess you can call him our mascot. I image eventually at some point we’ll have him on T-shirts and coffee mugs because in some ways he reminds me of what we’re about here.
“Years ago, when I was a kid, my father worked as a janitor at a bank. At that bank they had a tradition where board members would give that moose head to each other during the holidays as a gag gift, but one year a new board member received it and he was so offended that he told everybody that this degrading tradition was coming to a close that night, and then he called my dad over and told him to get rid of it. But my father liked it and kept it for years, so when we decided to open this place, I don’t know, I guess it just made me feel good having it here.”
Friends, part of me is hesitant to submit this column to my editor, because for me, finding Caydence was like stumbling across a treasure chest and I’m not sure I want to share the spoils. But after further consideration and another shot of espresso, I decided it’s just a matter of time before people realize this is one of the top feel-good places to hang at in the Twin Cities so I guess it makes sense to get the ball rolling. See you on the East Side.
Dan “Klecko” McGleno is the CEO at Saint Agnes Baking Company in St Paul and can be reached electronically at firstname.lastname@example.org, at the office at 651-290-7633, or on his cellular device at 651-329-4321.