Ashlea Clifton is new owner for The Gathering Grounds Coffee Shoppe

Couple happy to find Perham restaurant was up for sale.

The Gathering Grounds Coffee Shoppe's new owner Ashely Clifton stands next to one of the displays a week before the shop reopens. (RosaLin Alcoser/Focus)

Perham’s The Gathering Grounds Coffee Shoppe officially changed hands on Aug. 31. Ashlea Clifton, 37, bought the business from former owners, Lynn and Kari Johnson.

Clifton is an East Grand Forks native and has a background in design and has worked in restaurants her whole life, working in about eight or nine different restaurants. According to Clifton, her husband Jason moved back to Minnesota four years ago from California. After coming back, she said she helped start a bar in Minneapolis called the Hasty Tasty and has been an event coordinator and bartender in New Hope, Minn.

Having family in the Perham area and wanting to return to small-town Minnesota from the Twin Cities, the couple decided to purchase The Gathering Grounds when they heard that it was going up for sale. “I just couldn’t believe it,” Clifton said. “I love the shop.”

Despite COVID-19 making it a crazy time to purchase a restaurant, Clifton decided to go for it.

She said she is excited to be the new owner of the ship, despite a few small legal issues that delayed the closing date on the sale.


“I love the shop,” Cliftons said. “It’s a beautiful shop, it’s a kind of mash-up of a gift shop and restaurant coffee shop.”

Currently, no major changes are planned for the shop, “as we get our feet under us and kind of get in a good rhythm we’ll experiment with some new sandwiches and salads,” Clifton said. “But for now, I’m going to keep everything that people expect.”

“It’s tasty and it’s fun and it’s comfy,” Clifton said. “I love that it’s unique.”

The shop reopened on Tuesday, Sept. 8, with most of the staff staying on, according to Clifton. She said the staff who did not stay on were mainly students who left to return to school.

Clifton and her family are excited to be joining the Perham community. The couple has two children Marvel, 6, and Bjorn, 4, who are currently attending school in Perham. “We love Perham as a community,” she said. “It’s such a stable community with a great economy.”

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