Bill Klatt never anticipated that his love of coffee and Toledo history would lead him to bring beloved city trademark Tiedtke’s Coffee back to life.
Now an owner of Tiedtke’s Coffee and the soon-to-be-open Tiedtke’s Coffee shop, Klatt originally worked in advertising. Years ago, he was reading through Toledo history for his client’s advertisement when he became engrossed in the information he was finding. Even after his work on that particular project ended, Klatt couldn’t stop researching.
“I was hooked,” he said. “I continued reading about different businessmen and women who were associated with Toledo and I came across Tiedtke’s.”
Tiedtke’s was a well-loved grocery and department store that was open from 1894 to 1973 on Summit Street and Adams downtown. Founded by brothers Charles and Ernest, Tiedtke’s was a hub for downtown life.
One of the most well-known memories of Tiedtke’s is when the brothers created their own coffee blend, set up a ventilation system and blew the delicious smell of the brew through the store to lure customers in.
However, when Tiedtke’s closed in 1973, the coffee disappeared, so to speak.
“I thought that it would be so cool to bring it back to the city,” Klatt said.
Upon speaking with a trademark lawyer, he found the name was available and the resurrection began.
“If you look at pictures of Toledo in the 40s and 50s, downtown used to be really booming,” Klatt said. “It’s a shame that this excitement has been lost over the years. I really wanted to do something about it.”
A Walk Down Memory Lane
To create the nostalgic brew, Klatt had to do a lot of digging. There isn’t an exact record of what roast Tiedtke’s used, so Klatt interviewed people around Toledo to try to collect as much information as he could to recreate the taste.
“I was piecing together the memories of people who worked there or who roasted the coffee to get the blend as close as I could to Tiedtke’s original,” Klatt said. “I even called the North American Coffee Association to pin down what roasts were available during that time period and what blends were being shipped in from what countries.”
Klatt then approached The Anderson’s Store — a large retail outlet, now closed — about selling the Tiedtke’s Coffee.
“I knew walking in that they would be interested,” he said. “And they were. After that, we had a holiday sampling in the store, since it was around Christmas, and it was crazy.”
At the sampling, customers tasted the coffee for the first time and immediately recalled memories of Tiedtke’s when they were growing up. That day, Klatt heard so many stories about the past and several people even approached the sampling singing the old Tiedtke’s theme song.
“It brought back so many memories for people,” Klatt said. “I knew in that moment that this was the reason why I did this.”
After the success in Anderson’s, Tiedtke’s Coffee became available in many grocery stores around Toledo, including Churchill’s in Maumee and Perrysburg, Sautter’s in Waterville and Sylvania, Stanley’s, Kazmeier’s and Foodtown in Temperance. It can also be purchased online at tiedtkescoffee.com. For years coffee-lovers begged Klatt to open a brick-and-mortar store, and this October, he’s doing just that.
Aimed to officially open October 1, the new Tiedtke’s Coffee shop will live at 4444 Keystone, Unit B Maumee. Klatt hopes Tiedtke’s will be a local hub where people of all ages can enjoy coffee, share memories and enjoy their time. It will be for those who want to relive the memories and feel nostalgic, but also, it’s a place where people new to Tiedtke’s history can still enjoy the atmosphere.
“I want all generations to come in and enjoy themselves,” Klatt said.
And although Tiedtke’s Coffee will be modern and will serve a variety of brews from frappes to lattes to cappuccinos, Klatt personally calls himself old school. How does he like his coffee? Black. Sometimes you can’t beat the classics.