Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 24, 2018

Empty Nest: Coffee Depot

By Curt Swarm

On my morning Buddy walk with Ginnie, what did my eyes spy across the tracks from the Amtrak Station, in what used to be a laundromat?  I wasn't sure.  But there seemed to be a drive-up window with a hand-lettered sign offering coffee, cinnamon rolls, pop, etc.  There was also a front door with a couple of outdoor tables and chairs.  A sign above the door proclaimed “Coffee Depot.”  What in tarnation?
I shortened Buddy's leash and walked in.  Holy moley, guacamole, the room was filled with about a dozen women sitting in a circle having coffee.  
“This the new coffee-klatch place?” I asked.
“Nope. Birthday party,” one lady chimed.
I looked around.  On the walls were displayed old train and depot pictures, signs, and RR paraphernalia.  There were plug-in stations for electrical devices, spare chargers, and unique coffee-bean covered electrical outlets.  What a scream!
I went up to the counter and ordered French vanilla coffee for Ginnie, hazelnut for myself, and a couple of (to-die-for) warm, gooey cinnamon rolls, with quarter-inch thick frosting.  Ginnie and I then sat outside and enjoyed the morning and our unplanned breakfast.  Buddy couldn't believe his good fortune—a walk and treat!
The Coffee Depot is the brain child of Randy Stroud, owner of Z's Quick Break in Mt. Pleasant, and Cole Duke, Branch Manager of the U.S. Bank in Mt. Pleasant.  Cole is the numbers guy (bean counter—ha, ha), and Randy is the salesperson.  Their store manager is Patti Roth.  It seems Randy and his wife were going to Chicago one day, and the train was late, of course.  They were looking at the vacant building across the tracks and thinking it would be the perfect place to have coffee and wait for the train.  Randy Stroud and Cole Duke are friends on the Mt. Pleasant Area Chamber Alliance.  Randy mentioned his idea to Cole.  Cole said, “Count me in.”
The Coffee Depot quietly opened its doors about a week previous to my visit, but will have a grand opening and ribbon cutting in the near future.  Their intention is to offer coffee, food, refreshments and Wi-Fi to people getting on and off Amtrak, and to serve the people of the surrounding community.  With their location across the tracks from the train depot, one block from the middle school, and one block from Iowa Wesleyan College (now University), I'd say they may be a coffee-high success.  It doesn't get anymore Americana than this, folks: coffee plus Amtrak equals economy moving full steam ahead!
Besides all the coffee flavors, the Coffee Depot offers lattes, espressos, cappuccinos, and something called “cold-brew” coffee—what we here in the Midwest might call ice-coffee, but is much more complex and very popular with the Seattle-and-Chicago coffee-house crowd.  Randy, Cole, Patti and the help have attended mixology class.  Butch Biddle of Butch's River Rock Cafe in Oakland Mills supplies the cinnamon rolls and other fresh-baked goodies.  There's a nice selection of sandwiches, dogs, popcorn, and even ribeye sandwiches on special occasions from Z's Quick Break.  Store hours are from 6 a.m. to 1 or 2 p.m., or whenever the train comes in, seven days a week.  Even the church goers can stop in for a caffeine-buzz.
Not to worry about the train noise scaring the bejeebies out of customers.  Randy Stroud and Cole Duke have heavily insulated the walls.  And, get this, future plans call for two model railroad trains to be mounted on the ceiling—one heading east, the other west, to be activated for notice of train arrival.  I'm serious.  
Buddy's and my morning walk has now become much more interesting and, I might add, tasteful.

Have a good story?  Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at curtswarm@yahoo.com, or visit his website at www.empty-nest-words-photos-and-frames.com.  Curt also reads his stories at www.lostlakeradio.com.