March 2012

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live in a man's world Finn Berge and Matt Weygandt By Kelsey Sorenson As the duo who founded Barriques, the booming chain of local wine-and-coffee cafés, you might assume Finn Berge and Matt Weygandt found each other through a passion for spirits and caf- feine. While that may have played a role once they met, you can thank a special woman for bringing the two together: Berge's wife, who also happens to be Weygandt's sister. Since partnering to launch Barriques Wine Cave on Monroe Street in 1998, the brothers-in-law have expanded their company to offer coffee, baked goods, soups and sandwiches at six locations across Madison. Known for morning coffee stops, weekend wine tastings and their Wall of 100, a collection of quality wines under $10, Barriques has quickly become a community staple for sipping a drink of choice among friends. To keep up with the demanding operation, the Madison natives and busy fathers pair Berge's background in art history at Univer- sity of Wisconsin-Madison and Weygandt's in accounting at the University of Arizona for a business equal parts practical and fun. And while running a slew of cafés may have seemed like an unlikely path for the pair, it's a venture that has paid off, both for wine and coffee lovers in Madison, and for these two good guys who came together to build a good business. Barriques started with a sole focus on wine. Did either of you have a special connection to wine? Berge: I was the main wine buyer for the Blue Marlin, and had been buying wine for several years and touring France. So I had the ex- perience on the restaurant side, but not retail. When did you decide to add 'coffee shop' to your business model? Weygandt: Coffee wasn't even on the radar, other than we liked to drink it. We didn't add it [in-store] until we opened our Middle- ton location in 2003. We were originally going to partner and share seating space [with a coffee shop]. When they backed out, we still loved that combination and decided to do it ourselves. How have you been expanding? Weygandt: Opening a new physical location [on Park Street in August 2011] has been the most notable. Recently we've been ex- panding by producing more of our own [product]. We launched our own bakery a couple years ago and at this new location we're roasting our own coffee. That's a huge undertaking for us. We have a lot of opportunities to grow [the roasting] beyond Barriques. How has adding coffee roasting changed your business? Berge: It's been essentially like opening two businesses at once. Weygandt: It's not even like starting a new business—it's a com- pletely new animal. We've learned more about coffee in the last nine months than we've learned in the last nine years to make sure it's exactly the quality we want. Our workload is high because we're out there trying to sell our coffee. I feel like we're doing cof- fee better than we were, even though it's a lot of work. While each of your locations is different, they all have a signature look. How have you chosen to design your cafés? Berge: We've gravitated toward renewable woods. Our intention is to recycle, so we buy a lot from restores, reclamation and sal- vage companies. That consciousness may not have the most pristine look, but it has a natural character. It's a fun art form, and scratch- es that art degree part of my life. What are your main goals for Barriques? Weygandt: I think in part, finding what our customers like. We haven't done anything we haven't wanted to do, but there's always an economic part to it. Our short-term goal is to keep doing the coffee and bakery well and expand that as much as possible. ••• Quick Questions with Berge and Weygandt What is your guilty pleasure at work? Weygandt: A frozen ball of Cowboy Cookie Dough. Berge: I have a cortado [espresso cut with warm milk] every afternoon. 28 BRAVA Magazine Favorite café drink? Berge: Definitely the cortado. Weygandt: I'm a straight-up black coffee kind of guy. What's your must-eat in the café? Weygandt: Wisconsin Dip sandwich. I could eat it every day. Berge: Chucky Tuna sandwich. March 2012 Coffee or wine? Berge: I can't choose…I'm a waffler. Weygandt: Coffee would be worse to lose. I'd be a bad boss and dad. How do you settle disagreements? Weygandt: It's very rare, but… Together: Our wives. Finn Berge (left) and Matt Weygandt Growing a community-based business one sip at a time Photo by Tyler Robbins

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