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Food & Drink

Would You Like Something Notarized With That?

Incredibly, multiple Twin Cities restaurants have been offering free pop-up notary services.

left: a man stands with a coffee and a notebook inside marty's deli in northeast. right: a hand-drawn sign reading "notary public, notario público"

Left: Dave waits for clients at Marty’s Deli. Right: The sign that’s on display during notary hours at Duck Duck Coffee.

From day one, Marty’s Deli has been a family affair. Martha Polacek created the killer sandwiches, but her sister Catherine designed the Marty's logo, built the website, and directed photo shoots. The hulking vintage van she drove to pop-ups and makers markets came from her brother. 

And her dad, Dave? He did a little bit of everything: deliveries, sandwich wrapping, accounting—and, occasionally, on-demand notarization for delivery customers. 

It started in the fall of 2021, when Marty's was still operating on a pop-up and delivery basis. Some friends of Polacek's had a newborn baby, and they knew that Dave—a former lawyer—was a Notary Public. They asked if he'd be willing to notarize a few forms when he dropped off their sandwich order.

“We posted a picture of it, and people, like, really reacted,” Polacek says. “I was like, OK, fun! That’s a weird thing. I’d love to make him a bigger part of my brand." They added a notary services option to Marty's menu not long after, and on Thursdays, Dave would spend some time signing off on official documents during his delivery run.

The notarization operation took a brief hiatus when Marty's brick-and-mortar location landed in Northeast this January, but as things are settling down a bit, Dave's office hours are back: On Thursdays from 8 to 10 a.m., you can swing by the shop and get something notarized with your coffee and one of the deli's stellar sandwiches.

“It’s a free thing, he’s just got his little line," Polacek says. "The other day he had like three people lined up.”

Incredibly, Marty’s isn't the only Minneapolis eatery where you can get something notarized while you grab a coffee or get lunch. For the last few years, a Duck Duck Coffee regular named Abby has been dropping by periodically to notarize documents at the shop.

“She was notarizing stuff in her front yard down the street at the beginning of the pandemic,” says Duck Duck owner Kat Naden. "She just set up a table in her yard and was like, ‘Let me know if you need legal advice, let me know if you need something notarized.’ Since she was at Duck Duck all the time anyway with her kid, she was like, 'Do you want me to do notary stuff here?’”

She started popping up at Duck Duck once a month or so, hanging out and helping folks in English and Spanish for a couple hours at a time. And after seeing the notary service at Duck Duck, another local notary—one of the coffee shop’s book club regulars, Amy Coxe—started notarizing documents at nearby Key West Bistro.

“I happened to see a post from Duck Duck where they were like, ‘We’re gonna have a notary for a day! Come by and get yours stuff notarized! And I was like, ‘I, too, live above a coffee shop,'” Coxe says. She offered the service in her neighborhood Buy Nothing group, meeting folks at Key West Bistro to sign off on their documents over coffee and sandwiches—or, in the summer, one of the shop's excellent gelato flavors. 

“This is all, frankly, a thinly veiled excuse to go downstairs and get gelato,” she says.

Naden finds it kind of hilarious that there are now (at least) a trio of Minneapolis restaurants where you can get something notarized. “I haven’t even used our notary service, because what a weird—when’s the last time you had something notarized?” she laughs. 

But it’s also one of those things where when you need to have it done—whether it's for a birth certificate, or a passport application, or a loan—it can feel unnecessarily complicated or stressfully formal.

"If you can just have it done at your coffee shop, that takes some of the weirdness and pressure and odd-ness out of it,” Naden says. “Our baristas' names are on people’s wills, and people’s birth certificates, and whatever else. It’s just a really weird, neat neighborhood experience.”

Coxe sees this as a way to pay it forward: She got her notary stamp through her previous job in admissions at a nursing home and rehabilitation center, and her current workplace has paid to renew the license as needed.

“It’s like, one little thing that I can do for people in the community,” she says. “You can go to your bank and do it, there are places where you can go, but some of those places charge fees, and for me… it’s just never occurred to me that this would be something that I would want payment for.”

Unlike more traditional notary services, like banks, or the UPS store, she's able to help people outside of business hours. If Key West Bistro is closed, she's been known to do a "sidewalk notarization" or two.

It’s a win-win-win: “It’s easy enough to do, it doesn’t cost me anything, and it gets some exposure for a nice little locally owned coffee shop,” Coxe says. “It’s a good thing on multiple levels.”

And it's a popular service, too. At Marty's, Dave's new office hours have already been a hit. “He would have a few every delivery day, but now he’s got lots. It’s hilarious,” Polacek says. “And he’ll pretend he’s swamped when he’s got, like, two people. I love it.”

“It’s all for the clout," she chuckles. "He loves it.”

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