The Nostalgic Bean: Restored for Pours
coffee, croissants, and kismet at Altoona coffee shop
In April 2018, Jennifer Rust Anderson and her husband, Matt, purchased the former barber shop at the corner of Lynn Avenue and Division Street in Altoona. With a flaking pink paint exterior, it was one of the oldest buildings in Altoona. When it came up for sale, Jen and Matt saw a perfect opportunity to preserve a piece of Altoona’s history and create a coffee house and boulangerie where people could gather in downtown Altoona.
From that moment, a project brimming with passion took on a life of its own. Matt power washed the pink paint from the exterior and built tables and cabinetry.
“He really lived and breathed the physical renovations,” Jen said.
Jen, who developed her taste for good food when she spent time in Europe during college, poured herself into designing the space and building a team that shared her vision and passion.
Now, a year and a half of hard work and late nights later, The Nostalgic Bean is open for business. Providing something unique to downtown Altoona, this railroad-themed coffee house and boulangerie boasts handmade French pastries and piping hot coffee.
To talk with Jen about this project is to get swept up in her excitement. She credits the community and other local businesses for their support and encouragement.
“We wanted something unique in the Chippewa Valley,” Jen said. “There are a lot of amazing food makers, but not a lot of people who are focusing specifically on French pastries.”
When Jen met her bakery manager, Séverine Stein, the series of run-ins seemed to be fated. To prepare to realize her vision for The Nostalgic Bean, Jen took a few French cooking classes from Séverine at Forage. Originally from France, Séverine’s love of sharing her culture and cuisine immediately impressed Jen.
“We really fell in love with her and her philosophy and style,” Jen said. It matched the passion that Jen and her husband had for real, authentic, local food. After the class, they continued to run into each other, so Jen decided to meet up and tell Séverine about the business over coffee.
“It really was kismet, and we’re very lucky,” Jen said.
“She’s just as good, if not better, than what she considers classically-trained pastry chefs,” Jen said of Séverine. The recipes for classic French pastries, including choquette, clafoutis, and croissants, come from Séverine’s family. As she worked to perfect them, she would even call her dad in France for feedback.
Séverine now manages The Nostalgic Bean’s bakery, running it with patience and the heart of a teacher as she guides the baking assistants through learning new skills and techniques. The Nostalgic Bean “lets me be French!” she says with a twinkle in her eye and enthusiasm radiating from her smile.
“I was so thrilled that she was willing to join us, and now that we know her, I can’t imagine having tried to do this without her,” Jen said. “She’s an absolute gem.”
“The stars aligned, and it was meant to be,” Séverine added.
Focusing on locally sourced ingredients and supporting other local businesses are a priority at The Nostalgic Bean. Rump’s Butcher Shoppe, Honest Roast Coffee, Amanda’s Eggs & Pasture Poultry, and Forage Kitchens provide much of the food and ingredients that create their incredible food and coffee.
More information about the Nostalgic Bean can be found online at thenostalgicbean.com. They’re open 6:30am-3:30pm Monday through Saturday if you want to stop by.