When Liz Hoppe saw the “For Lease” sign outside The Bear Coffeehouse and Wine Bar in Spencer, she figured she had to act quickly if she wanted that space.
Hoppe recently revealed that she will be opening DejaBrew in Spencer at The Bear’s former home, 24 West Park Street. She and her husband, Colin, co-own DejaBrew, a coffee shop in Emmetsburg.
“I happened to be in Spencer and saw the for lease sign at The Bear space and my husband and I just kind of thought it was a perfect time since I had been working on a business plan, more or less, anyway,” Hoppe said. “I don’t think that would have been available for long. It’s already set up the way we want it. It was kind of one of those you gotta jump on it kind of things.”
The plan is to be open July 1.
“It’ll be really fast, but with that outdoor patio and right on the river, we really wanted to be open for as much of summer as we could,” Hoppe said.
Once open, DejaBrew will offer brewed coffee and espresso drinks; a variety of baked goods and sandwiches for breakfast; and paninis, sandwiches and soups for lunch.
“Almost all of what we offer, The Bear offered, as well, so I think it’ll be a really smooth transition,” Hoppe said. “We plan on carrying the entire menu over and growing it as we see fit or as the community sees fit, depending on which way you look at it.”
DejaBrew’s menu in Emmetsburg has grown considerably since it opened, mostly based on suggestions and feedback from customers. Hoppe said they will take suggestions from customers in Spencer, too.
The Spencer location will also have wine and beer available at night, Wednesday through Saturday, in The Bear’s former wine bar area.
“We’re going to focus on Iowa craft beers and Iowa wines,” Hoppe said. “Our business model really is shop local as much as possible, that kind of concept, so we really want to focus on local breweries. So (there will be) a lot of West O, we’re going to look into some out of Fort Dodge, Clear Lake.”
Hoppe said they will look to bring in wines from area wineries, including Round Lake Vineyard and Winery and Little Swan Lake Winery.
The coffee shop will likely open at 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday, Hoppe said they will likely close at about 2 or 3 p.m., stay open until around supper time Wednesday and Thursday, then potentially stay open until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
DejaBrew will announce hiring plans for Spencer on Facebook soon.
An experienced business owner
Hoppe knows how to operate a popular coffee shop. DejaBrew in Emmetsburg has a 5-star rating with 30 reviews on Facebook and a 4.5-star rating on Google with 31 reviews.
She and Colin opened DejaBrew in 2016, though Colin has a full-time job and isn’t as involved in day-to-day operations.
Hoppe had been back in the area since 2014. She had spent time in Ames at Iowa State University and then worked in Waterloo and lived in Cedar Falls.
When she returned to Emmetsburg, she noticed a need for good coffee and a place where friends and families could meet.
“We really wanted to provide a setting for that,” Hoppe said.
In the summer of 2016, they entered and won a contest held by the Emmetsburg Chamber of Commerce. That came with a $10,000 award.
“Basically, the only rules were you had to be taking over a downtown building, so they wanted to try and fill up Main Street,” Hoppe said. “And it had to be something they saw a need for, as well. So it had to serve the general public, basically.”
It seemed many people in Emmetsburg wanted a coffee shop, too.
DejaBrew has continued to grow thanks to Hoppe’s efforts and business acumen.
She is currently enrolled in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program, which will wrap up the third week in June.
“They kind of get you back to why you started your business in the first place and then really get you thinking about what’s next to grow business,” Hoppe said.
Liz and Colin had been thinking about how DejaBrew might grow.
They found that opportunity in Spencer.
A space for community
Hoppe said she had her eye on The Bear’s building since before it closed.
“That was kind of in the back of my mind that, if we were ever going to expand into Spencer, that was the space I wanted,” Hoppe said. “It was too perfect to not jump on it.”
Now, she hopes to provide a gathering place for the Spencer community similar to what The Bear offered.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s so great about this space,” Hoppe said. “It can be a working office for people and right next to them could be a group of friends who haven’t seen each other in 10 years catching up. It’s not exclusive to one group of people in that sense.”
They are moving quickly. They will take over the lease in late June and open in a month.
The community has already sent positive feedback her way.
“We really dove in and the feedback has been awesome, so that’s really exciting for us,” she said.