Saving a beloved coffee shop
LE MARS — Though Bellissimo Coffee Works has a new look to it, the welcoming atmosphere is much the same.
Bellissimo sports a brand new feature, a drive-thru, along with new ownership.
Heidi Boehme purchased the coffee shop along with her husband, Jon at the end of December. The shop closed on Dec. 16, with the drive-thru opening on Jan. 23 and the interior on Jan. 30, both at the other end of the building, 410 Fourth St. S.W.
“I have been a lifelong customer of Bellissimo ever since it opened,” Boehme said. “This place has been a blessing to me in a lot of ways. You develop a friendship with the people that are there. It becomes more than just a coffee shop when you’re a regular.”
“Over the past couple years our family has been through some really difficult things. This has been a place of solace,” Boehme continued.
When they heard it was closing, Boehme said the family knew they had to act.
“We have a daughter who graduated from high school who was an employee here so we had a little bit of an in that way,” she explained. “We weren’t necessarily looking to get into the coffee business, but when I started seeing how sad people were that it was closing, we started tossing around the idea.”
What started as a partial joke quickly became a serious discussion between the Boehmes and their three children.
“For us it’s very much a family business, everybody had to be on board or else we weren’t going to do it,” Boehme emphasized. “We have a daughter who is a freshman in college, a son who is a junior in high school and then we have a daughter who’s a fifth grader. Everybody was excited about it.”
Boehme said the family made sure to look past the initial excitement of owning a business.
“It sounds really cool on the front end but then you get into the every day work,” she said. “The reality is I’m a people person. Our tagline is, ‘it’s about more than just coffee’ and for our whole family we feel like it’s about building relationships with people.”
The Boehme’s oldest two children will help their parents with everyday operations in the coffee shop.
Though it’s under new ownership, Boehme said keeping the atmosphere the same was of the utmost importance.
“People had actually encouraged us to change the name and things,” she said. “The two former owners did a phenomenal job of laying a foundation and building not only a good reputation for good coffee, but building that atmosphere and that relationship with the clients that come in the door.”
“The challenge for Jon and I is to continue that. They left us very big shoes to fill. What I enjoy most are the times I get to get out behind the counter and go mingle with people,” Boehme continued.
The one major addition for the Boehmes was the drive-thru, which was a no brainer.
“I was a stay at home mom for many years, and I went through Bellissimo’s drive thru almost daily to get my coffee to get me through the day with young children,” Boehme said. “If I had to park my car and unload my kids to come in and get it, I wouldn’t have done that. When the weather’s cold or people are in a hurry, the drive thru becomes essential. Honestly it carries at least half of our business.”
Mini-donuts were also added to the menu.
“We have an automated donut machine where you can actually come in and watch your donuts being made and get them hot off the machine,” Boehme said. “We may expand that to add large donuts.”
There are other things the Boehmes want to add, like a lunch menu, but for now, they want to get their feet under them and treat customers the right way.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing what we do very well first before we add new items,” Boehme said.
The first few weeks has the left the family feeling overwhelmed in the best of ways.
“Everything has gone amazingly well. When we first talked about doing this, we were really praying about whether this was the right thing for us,” Boehme said. “It became very clear that this was what we were supposed to do. Doors were being opened and closed left and right leading us in this direction. Business has been amazing this first month.”
“The response from the community has been phenomenal. They’re just really glad that we’re open, this community is just incredibly supportive,” she finished.