Bryan Lindsley &
15 May 2002
caffeine & nicotine
afternoon and evening culture at Good Bye Blue Monday
The goal of our research was to capture the culture and essence of
Northfield’s Goodbye Blue Monday. To do this we spent
considerable time in the coffee shop over the course of three and a
half months. In addition to sipping at delicious coffee, we
observed interactions between customers as well as conducted interviews
with customers and employees in an effort to understand Blue Monday as
a cultural space. The meaning of the space, in our point of view,
changed during the time we were there. At first we believed Blue
Monday to be the location of choice for regular customers. While
Blue Monday is to some degree a chosen hangout for the Northfield
community, largely for high school and college students, it is also one
of the only “third place” options available to the community.
II. The Setting, The Flavor
Goodbye Blue Monday, referred to as Blue Monday, is
one of Northfield’s main coffee shops, and thus is a major
hangout. Nestled between a smoke shop called Tiny’s and a
Guatemalan restaurant on Division Street, the shop serves a wide
variety of people from the Northfield community. The shop opens
at 6 a.m. and closes at midnight. In the afternoons and evenings,
the shop serves students from middle and high school, college students,
and townies young and old. When we began research, in February
2002, smoking was only allowed after 5 p.m. During the course of
our research, the policy changed to no smoking all the time.
(Customers outside Blue Monday on Division
Below are a few observations we made during the course of our research
that can serve as the eyes and ears for someone unfamiliar with Blue
A. First Afternoon Visit (Tuesday, 26 February 2002)
Imagine any Division Street in any Midwestern, primarily white suburban
town. Notice the small crowd of middle and high schoolers:
they’re all smoking in front of the glass shop front window that reads,
“Good Bye Blue Monday – Café Au Lait, Espresso, Cappuccino,
Coffee.” Entering through the veil of smoke, the smell of fresh
coffee overwhelms the senses. It’s dim. There’s no smoking
until 5, but the smell of cancer still fills the air. Art on the
walls captures people, the types that come to coffee shops, the lovely
unsatisfied beat existential “I’m not happy and what about you.”
People inside sit in groups, eyeing the counter transactions.
There’s a high school group crowded in the middle of the shop occupying
the best couch and lounge chair. They’re LOUD. Not one has
bought a thing. By the counter at the back of the shop sitting at
tables against the wall are adults. Some have, kids some
don’t. They’re calm and quiet sipping at their drinks. In
the front of the store, the college student/townie crowd plays cards
and chats. They look like they belong here. Some drink
coffee while others nibble on sandwiches or fruit from other
shops. “Portishead” sings over the speakers and the general mood
of the shop is lively. At 5 p.m. the ashtrays are distributed and
half the shop lights up.
B. First Evening Visit (Thursday, 28 February 2002)
Lazy town, 10 p.m., all the boring people have gone
to bed. Most of the tables are empty and it’s unusually slow,
perhaps a post-weekend Monday-ish haze. Steam from the espresso
machine rises and coalesces with the Marlboro cigarette smoke.
Two men converse, three tables pretend to study amidst more important
and whimsical dialogue, and all the while the woman behind the counter
fills the coffee machines as she babbles, babbles, babbles on the black
telephone. Another woman’s country voice dances with guitar over
the shop’s cheap speakers and competes with the soft hum of fans and
the ugly smokeeater. The “Kill Your Television” discussion group
meets here once a week, proclaims a tattered sign above the shop’s
entrance. The ads for college events are primarily ignored.
No one reads them and why would they, since people come here to get
away from the impending doom of homework. Students come here to
“get off campus,” to escape the almost ever-present character of
homogeneity. Only, what they find here is the same old contrast
of white on white. This Division Street is after all, in the
typical, primarily white suburban town.
C. First No Smoking Policy Visit (Thursday, 18 April 2002)
Bright red sign posted everywhere: NO SMOKING ALL THE TIME. It’s
quiet here with more adults. Where did the regulars go?
When the new policy began there were large crowds outside in the
afternoons. They were loud and boisterous, smoking and laughing,
seemingly saying, “we don’t need your shop.” Apparently Blue
Monday management felt the same way – they removed the picnic tables
that sat out on the sidewalk. Now the high schoolers go somewhere
else. And, the college student/townie regulars do not come as
much anymore. Where, oh where, has the regular crowd gone?
The coffee is still delicious and the food is still tasty and the music
still rocks on, but something is different. Employees say that
business increased as a result of the policy. Customers don’t
know business increase. They feel atmosphere decrease. The
atmosphere more than slightly altered as a result of the new smoking
policy, it changed. Why don’t they just turn themselves into
Starbucks? The ceiling tiles are still yellow from years of
smoke, but the smell started to disappear after a couple weeks.
They lost the smoke but they lost something else. Who knows what?
III. The Problem
The questions we set out to answer were, “Does Blue Monday have its own
culture? And, is there something specific about the social space
and the people of Blue Monday that gives it its own culture, or could
any social space have the feel of Blue Monday?”
Our first impression of Blue Monday was that of a
“cool” hangout. The people there were not nerdy, meaning they
were not in the library studying or even on campus. It appeared
as though these people, as opposed to most college students, had moved
on with their lives in some way. The “coolness” we saw was that
of people who did not want to conform to the traditional Carleton and
St. Olaf student life. In addition, the shop was not your
traditional Starbucks or Caribou Coffee Shop. Instead, the
tattered and sunken-in couches looked as if they were bought from
thrift stores, the lamps were old, abstract and unique, and the
paintings on the wall were modern and existential. In other
words, the location was one of a kind. Compared to Blue Monday,
other places to hangout, such as on St. Olaf or Carleton campus and The
Kitchen, seemed boring and unexciting because of their standard
When we first walked in, we felt totally out of place and
uncomfortable. Everyone seemed to know each other and had a
specific place where they sat socializing or studying. We felt as
though everyone watched us as outsiders invading their own social
space. Could we, in our three month study there, crack into the
regular crowd, learning the in’s and out’s of Blue Monday?
Needless to say, the setting on the first day was intimidating.
Similarly, a Manitou Mess article relayed that first-time St. Olaf
students visiting Blue Monday often feel intimidated and try to
“pretend like [they] fit in” (1994: 9).
After several visits, we became more comfortable but
we still saw ourselves as outsiders. The regulars seemed to
recognize us but they did not want to converse with us. We avidly
watched every interaction, covertly listened to nearby conversations
and energetically joined outside smoke circles. The only time
that we were able to casually converse with the customers was when we
were outside smoking. Outside, people put their shields
down. Whereas inside it seemed as though we were judged based on
where we were sitting, what we were doing and what we were wearing,
outside was a whole new world. No one was with the friends they
came with and compulsive studiers were away from their books.
After about two months we felt more at home.
We had done several interviews and talked with employees. We
began to feel like regulars ourselves and realized that Blue Monday is
a prime “third place” location for the Northfield community. In
the book The Great Good Place, Professor of Sociology Ray Oldenburg
explains that people need and use “third places” as alternatives to
home and work. “The third place,” states Oldenburg, “is a generic
designation for a great variety of public places that host the regular,
voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals
beyond the realms of home and work” (1989: 16).
Blue Monday obviously provides the setting for a perfect “third
place.” One reason why Blue Monday is so popular among college
students is because they are trying to get away from their first two
primary places, namely classrooms and dorms. In a community such
as Northfield, there are few other options available for hanging out
and relaxing off campus. Blue Monday, with its relatively quiet
and relaxed atmosphere perfectly provides a great “third place.”
In a Manitou Messenger newspaper article featuring Blue Monday, Corey
Wall described the Blue Monday atmosphere felt like close knit
community of the popular TV show “Cheers” (1994: 9).
We conducted research at Blue Monday two to three times per week during
the course of three and a half months. Each visit lasted between
two and three hours. Observations between 3 and 5 we entitled
“afternoon hours” and between 5 and 12 “evening hours.” Each
visit we tried to sit in different locations. On some days we sat
in the front of Blue Monday, where regulars primarily sit. (See
Appendix for map). Other days we occupied the couches and chairs
that separate the front of the shop and the counter area.
Sometimes we chose the seats by the counter to see all
customer-employee interactions. Last, on warm sunny days we sat
outside on picnic benches. Management, however, took these
benches away when the new smoking policy was put into effect.
When we began research we primarily did participant
observation research. Upon every visit we would buy a cup of
coffee, take out our notebooks and write down anything and everything
we thought to be meaningful. This included a count of how many
customers were in the shop, what their ages and sexes were, what they
bought (or did not buy), what they were doing, and how long they
stayed. We listened to conversations going on around us and noted
whom we had seen there on a regular basis. (Bryan and Nancy
After several visits to the shop, we started to
conduct interviews with regular customers and employees. Usually
we were informal and we did not always record the conversation until
after it was completed. Although we were informal, we did follow
a pre-written outline. (See Appendix for questions). The
questions focus on age, sex, frequency of visits, reasons for coming
and what they buy. Once these basic questions were answered we
focused our questions on the atmosphere of Blue Monday.
Specifically, did regular customers feel that Blue Monday had its own
culture? In what ways was Blue Monday special? Last, after
we saw changes in the smoking policy, we began asking customers about
their reaction to the changes. What did they think were the owner
motivations behind a new smoking policy?
We felt that participant observation and personal
interviews were the best way to start to capture the atmosphere of Blue
Monday. This strategy has several strengths. First,
being customers ourselves we were able to sit back and take in the
general surroundings of Blue Monday. We listened to the music on
the overhead speakers, sampled the delicious coffees and baked goods
and conversed among ourselves and with others. Personal
interviews, as opposed to surveys, were helpful in getting to know
regular customers as well as getting deeper into the cultural questions
of Blue Monday. Instead of simple yes and no answers, we could
probe into the reasons behind reactions and answers.
The weakness of this research approach was that
observations and interviews could only be conducted during our weekly
visits. For these reasons, our generalizations are limited.
Although we have an idea of how the shop operates on most afternoons
and evenings, we were not able to capture the whole atmosphere.
With more time and resources, it might have been possible to explore
Blue Monday’s morning culture or to make sure we were there more
often. (For more suggestions for further research see summary and
We identified two groups of customers early on in our research:
regulars and non-regulars. We separated the customers into groups
so that they would be easily identifiable. Our research primarily
focused on the regular crowd and their opinions about Blue
Monday. The people we labeled as regulars we saw on almost every
visit to Blue Monday. Usually visits for regulars lasted several
hours. (After the new smoking policy came into effect, time of
stay shortened.) During their stay regulars usually studied,
played cards or socialized with fellow regulars. The regular
crowd was primarily made up of young males between the ages of
approximately 14 and 26 in the afternoons and a mix of males and
females between the ages of 19 and 26 in the evenings. The reason
why adults over 26 are not present in the afternoons and evenings could
be because Blue Monday is seen as a young persons’ hangout. Also,
most adult customers come earlier in the morning before they go to
We also noticed that there were a greater number of males in the shop
than females during most of the afternoons. One possible reason
that there were more males in the shop during the afternoon is because
females are involved in more activities. For example, there are
three dance studios in Northfield that many females attend. In
the evenings the male-female ratio was about equal.
The majority of customers were St. Olaf students, although the regular
crowd was made up of more Carleton students. Perhaps there are
more St. Olaf students in Blue Monday because St. Olaf College has
about twice the population of Carleton. Additionally, it is
probable that the regular crowd is mostly Carleton students because
Carleton College is much closer to Blue Monday than St. Olaf. St.
Olaf College also is home to two coffee shops whereas Carleton only has
one. We noticed that most of the regulars smoked and did not
generally make purchases. This could be because most of the
regulars are students or other young adults that do not have much money
to spend. Also, not buying anything indicates that the customer
did not come to the shop for coffee, but for other reasons such as
meeting people and socializing.
The second group that we identified were those we labeled
non-regulars. These were people we usually saw only once.
When talking to some of these people we found out that they did not
often come to Blue Monday. Non-regulars almost always purchased a
drink, which seemed to indicate that that was their sole intention of
coming into the shop. Also, many people would just come in and
purchase a drink to go, leaving the shop immediately after
paying. It was difficult to have any contact with these customers
because they were only in the shop for a short time and were usually in
During our visits in the afternoons and evenings we realized that the
crowd regularly changed by time. Before 3 p.m., the shop was
usually quieter. Customers were usually adults and a few college
students. The adults were often waiting for their children to get
out of school. Starting at about 3.30 p.m., the middle and
high school students would start to invade the shop. Blue Monday
is an after-school hangout for many teenagers. This crowd was
usually boisterous and noisy. We could tell from the expressions
on other customers’ faces that they disliked the rowdiness and
disruption to the small, quiet shop caused by the teenagers.
Employees of Blue Monday stated that this crowd did not often buy
In the evenings, the shop was much quieter and filled with students
studying. People had laptops and books open, however, quiet
conversations usually dominated peoples’ time. Infrequently,
adults came for meeting and teenagers came on dates. Most often
the shop was free of high school students because those in town were
usually at the town square or cruising in their souped-up cars.
During the afternoons and evenings the employees were always people in
their 20’s. Their duties included serving customers, making food,
cleaning tables and even chatting with customers. These
activities usually kept them busy their entire shift. Employees
also chose the music that plays over the shop’s cheap speakers.
Music during our visits included oldies such as Jimi Hendrix, jazz,
folk and rock such as Radiohead, the Big Wu and Phish. These
music selections often times reflected the preferences and selections
of the college crowd.
During our time studying Blue Monday, the smoking policy changed.
At first smoking was only allowed after 5 p.m. At the beginning
of our research, some people were already upset with the policy because
the shop had previously allowed smoking all the time. The shop
was divided into smoking and non-smoking sections, approximately half
and half. Although no divider was present, a sign on the wall
designated smoking and non-smoking sections. After years of
smoking, the shop smelled like smoke almost all the time, even during
non-smoking hours. Before 5 p.m., smoking customers went outside
and sat on picnic benches situated on the sidewalk in front of Blue
Monday. Often times the younger crowd, who were often times
underage and not customers because they did not buy anything, would
huddle together outside smoking. At 5 p.m., ashtrays were
religiously passed out to each table located in the smoking section of
the shop. Simultaneously, smoking customers lit up their
In April, a new smoking policy came into effect that seemed to forever
change Blue Monday’s atmosphere. The long rumored policy of “no
smoking all the time” came into effect. All smoking now had to be
done outside of the store around the picnic benches. On some
days, just after the new policy came into effect, there were more
people outside of the shop than customers inside. After several
days of this, the picnic benches were removed to curb loitering outside
of the store by non-buying customers, who were primarily labeled as
high school students by store ownership.
Changes as a result of the new smoking policy were soon evident.
First, previously regular customers who were smokers stopped coming as
often. One extreme customer picketed outside of the store with a
sign that stated, “I HAVE A HABIT!” Second, the shop started to
smell neutral. The ceiling was still stained yellow and brown
from years of smoke exposure and the couches still reeked of ash, but
the smell was less apparent. The machine that filtered the shop’s
air, labeled as the smokeeater, was also removed, leaving behind a
white square of unexposed ceiling. Third, as noted by a Blue
Monday employee, the average amount of time that customers stayed in
the shop was shortened. Whereas people had previously hung around
the shop for up to five or six hours, customers were now only staying
two hours at most. According to regulars, this change had a
negative effect on the shop’s overall
(Bryan and Nancy outside smoking)
The new smoking policy almost always came up in conversations and
interviews with customers and employees. Customers, when asked
about the cultural atmosphere of Blue Monday, almost always referred to
the smoke-free policy and commented that the policy had changed the
clientele as well as feel of the shop. Specifically, smoking, or
the ability to smoke inside, was directly related to the originality
and unique atmosphere of Blue Monday. With the new policy,
customers were unsure if the shop would emit the same unique aura.
For college students, leaving campus had previously meant more
freedom. Smokers felt as though the management was trying to
impose their values on the customers, similar to the stringent rules of
St. Olaf. In the past, Blue Monday seemed to welcome individuals
who wanted a free environment – there were no rules and no value system
imposed. The new policy puts restrictions on what one can do in
the shop as well as how comfortable one who wants freedom can
feel. Restrictions seem to stifle the liberal atmosphere.
On the other hand, some customers believe that the atmosphere has been
enhanced. For many, allowing smoking in a contained area such as
the small Blue Monday was a health issue. Even though smoking was
limited to certain areas of the shop, one cigarette would make the
whole shop smell smoky.
It is possible that the physical atmosphere of the shop itself has not
really changed much as result of the new policy. Instead, the
changes are in the attitudes of the regular customers. Since they
feel betrayed, they stop coming as often. When the regulars were
not in the shop, the atmosphere did not feel the same way.
Basically, we realized that the atmosphere is largely dependent on who
is in the shop, not the physical makeup of the shop or new
The following section will detail several of the
most important interviews we conducted during our research at Blue
Monday. Names of interviewees have been changed to protect their
privacy. A list of questions that we asked is listed in the
Appendix, however, the basic questions are listed below.
At the start of the interview we noted sex and
approximate age and asked whether or not the interviewee believed
he/she was a regular customer. From there, questions focus on the
general atmosphere and/or culture of Blue Monday. The final
questions usually focused on the new smoking policy and its affects on
atmosphere and culture.
“Max” – Male, Age 22
Max was in the Blue Monday during most of our first
visits. He is a St. Olaf senior and has been a regular customer
for two years, coming several times per week. He used to come
more often, but the overwhelming number of high school customers
lessened his overall experience and the general atmosphere. He
thought of Blue Monday as a hangout more than a shop, as he said he
often forgot to buy something during his long visits. Sometimes
he felt compelled to buy something because in the past he had seen
non-buying customers harassed by Blue Monday employees. The
reason why he and others come to Blue Monday is because there are not
many other places open for the people of Northfield to meet and hang
Max said that he felt comfortable in the Blue Monday setting, however,
the setting was rapidly changing. He said the new smoking policy
had large effects on the clientele as well as the general
atmosphere. Although the high school students bothered Max and
the ownership, Max believed the owners used the high school students as
a scapegoat for the new smoking policy. The owners, whom Max
called “pent-up aggressive fascists,” enacted the new smoking policy to
change the clientele of Blue Monday. Although regular customers
did not buy much, Max believed that their loyalty was being
“Harry” – Male, Age 20
We met Harry one evening sitting outside smoking on
Blue Monday’s picnic benches. He was very friendly and welcomed
us to sit and talk with him. Harry grew up in Northfield, and
after years of being away, he returned and is currently involved in
what he terms “the ministry.” Although not actively involved in
any church, he finds Blue Monday as an excellent place to meet people
and give them “the word of the Lord.” For him, Blue Monday serves
as a community center where people can exchange ideas and experiences.
During the hour we talked to Harry, he smoked at
least five cigarettes. He believes the smoking policy will be
costly to owners because they will lose customers. Additionally,
if they wanted the shop to smell less like smoke they would have to
replace the ceiling tiles as well as the furniture. The smoking
policy was just part of Blue Monday’s new renovations that attempt to
bring in new clientele. The policy, he believed, would attract
many non-smoking customers.
“Francis” – Female, Age 18
We met Francis at the same time that we met
Harry. She sat quietly during our conversation and only added a
couple comments. Although her comments did not pertain
specifically to Blue Monday, it did reveal some aspects of Blue Monday
that we had not previously analyzed. Specifically, she made
racist comments about the Mexican-American population of
Northfield. She was upset because a few Mexican-Americans that
work with her did not know how to speak English. “They could at
least learn to speak our language,” she exclaimed. These comments
made us realize that almost exclusively the customers of Blue Monday
are Caucasian English speakers. However, this is not to say that
Blue Monday does not wish to serve Northfield’s minority
populations. Rather, the actual community of Northfield is
primarily Caucasian. Therefore, it makes sense that the Blue
Monday population would also be primarily Caucasian.
“Bernice” – Female, Age 22
Bernice has been an employee of Blue Monday for five years. She
grew up in Northfield and currently attends St. Olaf. When she
serves the morning customers she says that she feels like a “machine,
serving customer after customer without a stop.” According to
Bernice, the morning and afternoon/evening crowds and atmospheres are
completely different. The business opens at 6.30 a.m. From
that time until about 9 a.m. the shop is filled with runners,
Northfield school and college administrators, and business
persons. At that time in the morning most customers just order
coffee and leave immediately. The main draw for these people is
the great coffee that Blue Monday provides. When talking about
regular customers, Bernice pointed out a group of male business owners
who come in every day at 6.30 and stay till 9. They have been
coming every day for years and always sit at the same table, so she
knows their usual orders. According to Bernice, a regular
customer is one who comes daily for years and always orders the same
thing. Our study focused on more than that definition, however,
because very few customers come every day for years.
The new smoking policy, confirmed Bernice, is an initiative of the Blue
Monday owners to draw a new crowd. The new policy attracts
non-smokers and families who are likely to consume more than the
current regular customers. Also, she believed that taking away
the outside picnic benches was a good idea. Specifically, it was
one of the ways to get rid of the annoyingly persistent middle and high
school students. “They never buy anything and are always using
the phone and making a mess.” Blue Monday has no incentive to
cater to these types of non-buying customers.
“Ingrid” – Female, Age 22
Ingrid was one of the few non-smokers that we
interviewed. Whereas previously she could not study at Blue
Monday because of her dislike for the smoke, Ingrid now loves to spend
her evenings in the shop. Since the new smoking policy, according
to Ingrid, the atmosphere has been more pleasant. The new policy
attracted a new crowd. Additionally, there is nowhere else where
students and others can spend time studying and socializing during the
evenings in Northfield. In Ingrid’s words, “The Kitchen
sucks!” This obviously reminded us of Oldenburg’s “third place”
“Bobby” – Male, Age 24
Bobby has worked at Blue Monday for the last five
years. He came to Northfield to attend St. Olaf but dropped out
after a semester. Even though Bobby is a smoker and personally
dislikes the new policy, he appreciates the new working atmosphere the
no smoking policy created. Even though several friends of his
that were regular customers felt betrayed by the new smoking policy,
Bobby could understand the ownership’s new policy from a business
standpoint. Blue Monday, as a result of the policy, was making
more money. “The sad truth is, you can easily replace one smoking
customer with several nonsmoking customers.” Since the new
policy, the shop has seen many customers who greatly appreciate the
nonsmoking atmosphere. Specifically, customers have commented on
the improved smell and adolescent-free noise.
Our research goal was to discover and explore the
culture and essence of Goodbye Blue Monday. Over the course of
three and a half months we drank coffee, observed, conversed and
learned. We found that the data we collected during the course of
our visits was difficult to analyze and compile. We realized that
the essence of Blue Monday is largely composed of customer
perceptions. Therefore, Blue Monday means different things to
different people. Our research largely was to try to understand
these perceptions and translate them into collective meanings for
essence of Blue Monday.
At the beginning we hypothesized that Blue Monday
was different from the average chain coffee shop like Starbucks and
Caribou. This assumption was a result of only a couple of visits
to Blue Monday during our years studying at St. Olaf. Our initial
impressions focused on the unique atmosphere we thought and confirmed
Blue Monday possessed. These impressions focused on the physical
atmosphere, such as the furniture and artwork. Basically, Blue
Monday is unique in its physical setting. In terms of the
physical setting alone, customers perceive Blue Monday to be different
from large chain coffee shops. Customers identified chain coffee
shops as clean, plain and sterile in atmosphere. We noticed that
customers often times mentioned the physical atmosphere alone when
talking about the essence of Blue Monday.
Blue Monday, however, possesses more than just physical
uniqueness. After months of research, numerous conversations and
several interviews, we concluded that Goodbye Blue Monday’s essence is
largely due to it being one of the only “third place” locations
available for the Northfield population. Since it is one of the
only places to hangout, it is a community center for a diverse group of
Northfield residents. Although we noticed very little racial
diversity, the customer base is composed of middle and high school
students, college students, families and business owners. We
noticed that the most regular crowd was composed of younger people,
namely high school and college students. As a result of providing
a place for different groups to converge and utilize a common space,
Blue Monday allows for a unique atmosphere to exist. Basically,
it is a community center.
During our research we often heard rumored that a new coffee shop, one
such as Starbucks or Caribou Coffee, would be moving into Northfield in
the near future. Another coffee shop would mean the existence of
another “third place” location. This could significantly alter
Blue Monday’s clientele and/or significance as the primary hangout for
both young people and adults. The shop would be forced to compete
with other shops.
Changes in smoking policy also had a big effect on customers’
perceptions of Blue Monday’s atmosphere. At the beginning of our
research smoking was allowed after 5 p.m. In April, the policy
changed to no smoking all the time. When the no smoking policy
was enacted, regular customers reacted negatively. High school
students were less often in the shop or even outside the shop and
regular smoking customers came infrequently. They felt that since
the smoking policy changed Blue Monday was no more unique than chain
coffee shops. Overall, most chain coffee shops do not allow
smoking. Regulars also claimed that management was trying to push
their values on customers and therefore felt that the shop was turning
into a chain coffee shop. For regulars the essence or atmosphere
of Blue Monday did significantly change along with the smoking policy.
For others, however, the new policy actually enhanced Blue Monday’s
atmosphere. As a result of the new policy, Blue Monday actually
gained a greater percentage of the Northfield’s population as
customers. Several people commented on the cleaner atmosphere and
how much more attractive it was to stay in the shop for longer periods
of time. These customers believed that Blue Monday was
significantly different from chain coffee shops even though the smoking
policy had changed. They cited, for example, Blue Monday is not
owned by a major corporation and does not have to adhere to any
corporate policies. Additionally, these customers believed that
Blue Monday still provides a unique atmosphere of old furniture and
As a result of time constraints and great amounts of possible data, our
research could not possibly cover Blue Monday’s entire essence.
We believe that Blue Monday definitely merits future research.
For example, our research did not focus at all on the morning
atmosphere of Blue Monday. While talking to customers and
employees, we realized that the morning atmosphere was absolutely
different from afternoon and evening atmosphere. Further research
could have also been done on the history of the Blue Monday building
and shop. The Northfield library and St. Olaf archives could
provide data on this type of research. Additionally, since we
were unable to get in contact with the owners of Blue Monday, further
research could focus on what the owners are trying to provide for
customers and why they decided to make changes in smoking
After considering all these details and perceptions, we concluded that
Blue Monday is a great coffee shop. Many people, despite changes
in smoking policy can appreciate the informal setting and unique
artwork. Their selection of coffee, tea and fruit drinks is
unmatchable anywhere else in Northfield. Some may critique Blue
Monday as nothing more than something similar to a chain coffee shop,
but Blue Monday is different. In the end, most customers perceive
Blue Monday as a significant community center for the Northfield
community. The whole community should collectively say, “Thanks a
I. Menu of most commonly ordered beverages and pastries (according to a Blue Monday employee)
dark roast to stay $1.10 1.25
regular roast to go 1.10 1.50
flavor au lait 1.50 2.25
latte sm 1.85 lg 2.60
Not coffee $2.75-3.25
Summer drinks $1.35-3.25
Baked goods $1.25-1.70
cookies, muffins and scones
Rice Krispie bars
II. Interview Questions
How often do you come to Blue Monday?
What time do you usually come to Blue Monday?
Why do you come? (Meet people? Socialize? Play cards? Study?)
Do you meet new people at Blue Monday?
Do you feel compelled to buy a beverage or food item?
What do you usually buy?
Would you classify or self as a regular or non-regular?
What type of person is a regular?
Do you feel comfortable coming to Blue Monday?
Does Blue Monday have its own culture?
What changes have you seen since you first started coming to Blue Monday?
Do you smoke?
What do you think about the new smoking policy?
Are you going to change your meeting places because of the new policy?
III. Map of Blue Monday
Oldenburg, Ray. 1989. The Great Good Place. New York: Paragon House.
Wall, Corey. 1994. “Blue Monday’s joe perfect for hip cats.” Manitou Messenger, February 25, 9.