Weather Alert
Angry Trout Cafe sold to two longtime employees
Kalli Hawkins

Angry Trout Cafe sold to two longtime employees

A quaint long-established business along the shores of the Grand Marais harbor has exchanged ownership hands.

The Angry Trout Cafe was established 35 years ago, in 1988, by Barb LaVigne and George Wilkes. Throughout the past 35 years, the business has grown in popularity along the North Shore for its commitment to supporting local vendors and offering locally grown produce and freshly caught Lake Superior fish.

The now former owners, LaVigne and Wilkes, have officially sold the business to two longtime employees, Elliot Doherty Noyce, and Jessy Goble. Noyce has worked for the Angry Trout Cafe since 2005 and Goble since 2020.

LaVigne said they approached the core group of Angry Trout managers last summer to propose the idea of a purchase opportunity. “We really wanted to offer it to the staff,” LaVigne said. “I just didn’t feel right to put it on the open market and have somebody come in that really didn’t know us or know the whole situation.”

After learning of the potential purchase opportunity, Goble said she was “initially gung ho” about the idea. After moving to Grand Marais during the COVID-19 pandemic, she landed a job at the Angry Trout and was immediately drawn to the sustainability-focused business model. “I felt like as soon as I walked through the doors, I felt like this could be home now. It hasn’t changed.”

Noyce shared the same enthusiasm, “I’ve thought about it for, I mean, my entire life.”

“Just the community and family and the caring of everyone towards each other is remarkable,” Noyce said. “It’s just been an amazing place to work, in my opinion.”

The new owners intend to keep operating the business as usual and stay open year-round. While they may make some minor changes here and there, they are focused on getting through the upcoming busy summer season. Thankfully, LaVigne and Wilkes have agreed to help during the transition period and lend a hand when needed during the summer months.

LaVigne plans to maintain the flower arrangements this summer, hopefully in exchange for some shrimp tacos. As she steps away from her ownership duties, LaVigne said she plans to get more involved with music. “I’ve been working with a couple of flute players at school.”

As Noyce and Goble prepare for the summer and look toward the future, they are thankful for the opportunity to continue building upon what LaVigne and Wilkes started so many years ago. “The opportunity is just phenomenal,” Noyce said. “We’re just excited to be here and participate in a larger way in our community,” Goble added.

“I know Barb and George are always great about donating to community organizations,” Goble said. “I don’t see that any of that’s going to change.”

As LaVigne and Wilkes transition to retirement, she reflects on her time as an owner of the Angry Trout. “It’s been just such a privilege to work with this group of people and be in this community and in this place.”

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins sat down with the Angry Trout Cafe’s former co-owner Barb LaVigne and the new owners Elliot Doherty Noyce and Jessy Goble to talk about the exchange of ownership, the history of the business, and much more. Audio from the interview is below.