This morning I stopped into one of my favorite winter coffee shops. This place isn't a Caribou, Starbucks, or any other coffee chain. This little family owned gem is called the In Towne Marina. Yep that's right, its a bait shop and a marina. Located right on the shores of Lake Waconia, the Masse family of Jim, Cindy, Ben and Jimmy, specialize in a good fishing report, minnows, tackle, and a great cup of coffee. If it's not coffee your after, then you may enjoy a cup of hot chocolate after your trek across the lake. Whatever you prefer, there is one thing that is certain. There will never be a shortage of fish talk when you enter these doors!
Similar to the television show "Cheers," all the men, and women, (yes I said women) sit around the bar and drink their beverage of choice. Coffee, hot chocolate, or coffee. You walk in the door, and they all yell your name. It's a small little shop, but quite cozy and friendly. After a few hello's, and a cup of coffee waiting on the bar stool, it is right into the fishing chatter.
First things first! "Have you been out?" one of the Masse family members will always ask. Sometimes it's a little more secretive than others. That all depends on who is sitting on the bar stool next to ya. If it's a local fishing hound, then its a muffled question, or even a whisper. If not, it is a loud bunch of chatter from the entire group eager to hear the scoop. Either way, the response is almost always the same from everyone. "I wouldn't tell you even if I was catching em!" See, in the fishing world, it's all about being secretive. Nobody wants to give up their honey hole, and everybody wants to know what the other guy is catching. It's really humorous to listen to what everybody has up their sleeve. You really can't trust one guy from the next. That's just the life of a fisherman. Even if a guy brought his catch in for all to see, you would have a hard time believing the story. Sounds like a fish tale to me, is always the final answer!
Oh, did I mention, everyone has a nickname!
Let me introduce you to the characters. Jim and Cindy, husband and wife, they own the joint. Ben and Jimmy are their sons and they look to continue the 20 plus year tradition. Doug, a.k.a, Dooogy is the Mr. Fix-it. He'll engineer anything you need to get out on the water. Would you believe he has a fish-house made from recycled doors. Guru is a fishing legend on that lake. He works the summer shifts behind the counter and the winter shifts he sits with the coffee drinkers. Ron is the local taxidermist with the black labs, he's a great shot, and a great conservationist. Butch is a man of all men. He seems to have done it all, his jokes are great, but not for those under 13. Melissa brings the looks to the table. Throw in Tim, otherwise known as Dingy, the man with a mustache any can admire. I can give him crap, but nobody else will dare. Tony is quiet, but laughs when necessary. Pauly is a straight shooter, but about what, I'm not sure. Another Jim lives across the bay, and he knows the lake. Roger has a different hat for every day of the year, and they are all hilarious. Then there's the "Big Show!" The man with stories that most can't even fathem. He's been there and done that, however nobody really believes him. Throw in another dozen or so regulars that fill the seats, and you have enough people to catch any fish, at least you would think so.
Seriously though, the place is a hoot! The service is great, the laughs are endless and yes, you can get a fishing report. Just don't ask the guys drinking the coffee! The doors open at 6, 7, or 8 AM depending upon the season, but there is always one thing for certain. There will be a line of coffee drinkers waiting for the doors to unlock. Stop in and have a cup with them. You won't be dissapointed!