And how much more difficult, and rare, has it become to walk in without anything to hide behind and just see what happens? The more we shield ourselves behind screens, or put in headphones to mute our surroundings, the further we isolate our- selves from people and community. The Coffee House at Chestnut & Pine, in Burlington Wisconsin has quietly worked to push back on that trend and create an environment that encourages interaction. Though patrons are often armed with screens, The Coffee House’s atmosphere encourages them to look up, absorb their surroundings, and partake in the community around them.
Having opened its doors in June of 2012, The Coffee House has made a name for itself in just a few short years. Owners Paul and Rhonda Sullivan envisioned a space that would be more than just a beautiful coffee shop on the corner. “They wanted to make a space for the community. A place for people to come and gather together.” says Carly Hurley, niece to Paul and Rhonda, and manager of The Coffee House.
Susan Rubach, sister to owner Paul Sullivan, is responsible for the unique décor that graces the building. The original brick walls are adorned with the masterpieces of local artists. Old leather couches encourage lingering; assorted tables invite parties of all sizes. “Whether with a group, or alone, we want people to feel comfortable and safe.” Hurley said.
The small coffee shop has quickly developed in the last five years. While still maintaining their quality brews from Anodyne Coffee out of Milwaukee, The Coffee House added a full kitchen in the spring of 2015. The new kitchen accommodates a larger breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu, as well as in-house catering. The event space is located up a flight of stairs, available to rent and seating approximately forty guests. Also, upstairs is The Liar’s Club, a classy lounge, which opened in fall of 2016. The space has a distinguished atmosphere yet remains cozy.
The Coffee House community extends beyond its homey décor and friendly atmosphere. It truly is a way of life for the patrons and staff, who host craft sales and community groups, as well as weekly Open Mic Night and live music on the weekends, highlighting local musicians. The Coffee House regularly has a full calendar of events. “For someone nervous about trying out their skill, don’t be. It’s very warm here.” Hurley says of the Open Mic Night Crowd.
The Coffee House has become iconic to downtown Burlington. What was once a simple coffee shop with a panini press has quickly grown into the community center Paul and Rhonda dreamed of. “If you are worried about showing up alone, don’t be. Give it a shot.” says Hurley, “It’s truly a welcoming community.”
Photographer: Grant Goldenstern
By: Kinsey Quernemoen