ALUMNI UPDATE: Clark opens Northern Grind

New shop offers more than coffee in Downtown Utica

Emily DeClark, Reporter

Picture this: You’re walking in downtown Utica and get caught in a breeze; you’re shivering. You then spot a coffee shop and hurry inside for warmth. You get a cup of hot coffee and notice the store itself is cute and charming. You look for a sign, and realize you’re at Northern Grind. You don’t remember seeing it before, so you ask the man at the counter how long they’ve been open. You realize it’s Allen Clark, a Utica High alumnus from the class of 2006. What a small world.


Emily DeClark

Northern Grind has been open for three months, and how Clark and his friend Dan came to own it is an interesting story.

“I’ve known the owners of Muldoon’s, Eric and Mitchell, for a while,” Clark said. “I was talking with them St Patrick’s Day 2021 and was telling them how Dan [his friend and now co-owner] and myself had been looking for something to open for a while now and he mentioned that the space next door was going to be going up for lease soon. He told us we could have first look if we were interested. I called Dan not even five minutes later to tell him and we scheduled an appointment to look at it. A few days later we looked and both agreed to lease the space. At the time we had no idea what we would do with building, but all we knew was we had a space and a dream. After a few days and throwing around ideas my mom made a comment about how this city needs a small coffee shop and that was it, that’s how Northern Grind was born.”

Even though Clark has been graduated for 15 years now, he still looks back fondly on his Utica days.

“As far as memories, there were a lot, honestly,” Clark said. “My times at Utica High School were some of the best of my life. I met two of my best friends there and still see them to this day. I also had the pleasure of being taught by some great teachers. My favorites, hands down, were Mr. Farr and Mr. Chapoton.”

After being open for three months, Clark and Dan have already began planning for the future.

Emily DeClark

“Our plans don’t specifically call for making this a chain,” Clark said. “If it’s in the cards it will happen. We do want to continue to grow whether it’s another Northern Grind, a pizza shop, bar, or something else. Our goals are endless, and we’ve just started. If anyone who reads this isn’t happy or is upset with where they’re at right now, don’t give up. Things come to those who put in the work whether its a day from now, a year or even later. It took us until we were 33 years old to finally do what we had been talking about for over a decade.”

You can find Clark at Northern Grind Coffee, 7616 Auburn Rd in downtown Utica. They’re open Tuesday through Friday from 7am to 8pm, Saturday 8am to 8pm, and Sunday 8am to 3pm.

Emily DeClark