IOWA CITY — Kelly Elliott and Jamie Skinner’s children go to the same day care; they met at a 4-year-old birthday party. So when they decided to open Dodge Street Coffeehouse together, they knew they wanted it to be kid-friendly.
One corner of their space on the north edge of Iowa City is a dedicated play area, complete with plastic kitchenette and games. Kids have a place to entertain themselves while their parents enjoy an espresso and adult conversation.
“We knew all along the feel of this place wasn’t going to be an intimate, quiet, cozy coffee shop,” Skinner said. “It was going to be an open place for a lunch crowd and for people to bring their families.”
The duo opened their coffee shop Dec. 17.
Skinner owns a Molly’s Cupcake franchise in Iowa City and recently closed a North Liberty location of the bakery. She had all of the equipment and furniture from that shop and wanted to open another business to use it. She and Elliott connected over the idea of a coffee shop in the neighborhood just north of Interstate 80, as Dodge Street becomes Highway 1 on the way out of town. The coffee shop is in a former Subway connected to a BP gas station and includes a drive through.
Elliott previously worked at an accounting firm nearby and knew from firsthand experience that the area was underserved for lunch and coffee options. The timing and the location made for a perfect fit.
“The stars aligned,” Elliott said. “I worked as a barista for about six years in college, and I have dreamed of opening a coffee shop ever since.”
They source coffee from three Iowa roasters: Capanna Coffee of North Liberty, Caturra Coffee Roasting Company of Sioux City and one rotating featured roaster — the current pick is Dash Coffee Roasters of Cedar Rapids.
Along with coffee, espresso drinks, tea and other beverages, they serve pre-made food from several local eateries, including Trumpet Blossom, Oasis Falafel, Nodo, Local Burrito, The Dandy Lion and Molly’s Cupcakes. Customers can choose items like vegan wraps from Trumpet Blossom, hummus and pita from Oasis or sandwiches from Nodo, displayed in a glass case along one wall.
“Owning a bakery, I knew how much is involved in making your own food, so we wanted to simplify the whole process,” Skinner said. “There’s such a good local food scene in Iowa City. This brings in more of a variety than we can ever make ourselves.”
That allows them to focus on their coffee, Elliott said.
“Making people’s day with a well-crafted drink — it’s heartwarming, for sure,” she said. “A bonus to that feeling is making people’s day when they stop at this gas station and get a good cup of coffee. People feel like they’ve won the lottery.”
If You Go
• What: Dodge Street Coffeehouse
• Where: 2790 N. Dodge St., Iowa City
• Hours: 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; hours subject to change
• Details: (319) 569-1722, facebook.com/dodgestreetcoffeehouse
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