On a trip to River Falls from her home in Cottage Grove, Minn., Wendi Clarke was drawn to Selah Vie Bistro and Coffee Cottage. Without even stepping foot inside, she knew it to be a special place.
Clarke met Darren Graves while working at Casper's Cherokee of Eagan, Minn. in 2004. Almost two decades later, the now engaged couple has purchased Selah Vie, becoming the passionate new owners on May 1.
“A coffee shop to me… when I'm getting ready for work in the morning, and coming here, I don't even feel like it's a job,” said Graves. “I feel like it's almost a lifestyle.”
It was always a dream for Clarke and Graves to own a small business of their own. Both with experience working at small, family owned establishments, they have a love for customer service and community. When it came to Clarke’s attention that Selah Vie was for sale, she knew it was meant to be.
“I was like, that's ours,” she said. “I'm very faith based and the name itself, Selah, is biblical… God just put it in front of me. And it was like, yes, yes, this is going to be ours.”
The biblical meaning of ‘selah’ is interpreted in a few different ways. Often, it is taken to mean ‘a breath’ or ‘a pause,’ which in a way, is what Clarke did as she left her career with the State of Minnesota Health Licensing Boards to pursue this dream.
Clarke and Graves want Selah Vie to be a place for all to enjoy. “We're just really excited about bringing our passion and our purpose to this establishment,” said Clarke. “And just getting to know everybody and making it a real community environment where everybody can gather.”
Family is a top priority for Clarke and Graves. They currently reside in Cottage Grove and have a 13-year-old-daughter together. Clarke also has three, adult children.
The night before their first day with the business, Graves received a text. Clarke had brought their daughter and grandkids to the shop to decorate cake pops together. “It’s like, the family is part of the business in a way,” said Graves. “It’s like, wow, they’re, you know, the families are getting involved. So we’re excited about it.”
In addition to fostering community and camaraderie within their business, the two are hoping to expand shop hours and begin using the firewood pizza oven in the back, amongst other things. Though a date has not yet been determined, Clarke and Graves are hopeful about having a grand opening celebration. What they do know is that they will be tying the knot at their wedding in October.
“In the same year we decided to get married and buy a business,” said Graves. “You know, you only live once.”
Selah Vie is located at 208 N. Main St. in River Falls and is currently open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.