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ISSUE 117 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/14/2004

James gang invades

By Stephanie Soucheray
News Editor

Friday, May 14, 2004

The James Gang Café is one block north of Target on Highway 3, and this unfortunate location which flaws the James Gang experience.

Despite its placement, the café stands as a friendly, moderately priced and well-organized eatery and coffeehouse. The kind that would thrive if it sat in the middle of Division Street. James Gang is the type of small-town café meant to open its doors to the gentle rushing of the Cannon River, not the buzz and whirl of cars on their way to Fairbault.

The café, which opened in late January, serves coffee, breakfast pastries and light lunch specials daily. Although its hours (Monday-Saturday 6:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and Sundays 7:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.) are not the most student-friendly, any Ole would get a great Northfield experience by having a lunch at the James Gang.

The café is quintessentially Northfield. Intellectuals and grandparents sit shoulder to shoulder, discussing politics or reading books. Art done by the Village Elementary School students adorns the walls. There are (appropriately) references in the decor to the infamous Jesse James Gang robbery. The wait staff is friendly and quick with smiles.

Simplicity and comfort rule the interior of the James Gang; with its wood floors, large, open coffee bar, cozy fireplace and overstuffed leather chairs, the café is the perfect place to enjoy a quiet conversation or do homework.

A large chalkboard hangs behind the coffee bar and features over 25 different types of hot and iced coffee drinks. Although coffee experts may smirk at some of the cute drink names (Smiling Irish Eyes and Real Italian Style), most will appreciate the cafés wide flavor offerings. Smoothies, Italian sodas and Cremosas (Italian sodas with whip cream) make the menu friendy to kids and caffeine-phobes alike.

The food at the James Gang, like the decor, is reliable and satisfying; only pastries, two soups, sandwiches and salads are served daily. While limited, the menu is trustworthy in its small scope. In deli-style fashion, customers write their choice of soup, salad or sandwich toppings on an order sheet, pay the cashier and wait for their order to appear atop the food bar. This transaction takes no more than five minutes, as the staff is efficient and business-like. The salads are fresh: customers have the option of adding five free toppings, making the salad worth every penny. The best deals at the James Gang are the lunch combos. A half a sandwich or salad plus a cup of soup are priced at $5.95 each.

The portions are generous, and this meal would be a great lunch option the next time the family comes to visit. Just make sure to avoid sitting by the window, which gives the customer a lovely view of a busy four-lane highway.

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