By Micah Wilkins
July 2, 2014
KANSAS CITY, Missouri – Dan Smith opened up Eleos Coffee House three years ago as a safe space for community members.
Smith, owner of the coffee shop, opens his doors to paying customers getting their caffeine fix, passersby looking to cool down, and people who spend their days on the corner of Independence and Indiana Avenues.
Now, Eleos will offer even more space to community members. Starting in early July, the coffee house is opening the room adjacent to the current space to offer additional, more intimate seating. Eleos knocked out a wall in order to expand, and the new addition will virtually double the size of the space occupied by the coffee house. Whereas the front room feels more like a diner, Smith said, with traditional tables and chairs, the new space will have small enclaves of couches and chairs, to promote conversation.
“It’ll be a comfortable, inviting space,” Smith said of the addition, which will be able to accommodate about 15 to 20 additional customers.
Eleos has been steadily growing, according to Smith. About half of the business is wholesale coffee sales outside of the Northeast, but the number of neighbors and locals coming in for their morning coffee or a panini for lunch is increasing.
“We’ve seen an upward trend,” Smith said. “Especially within the last year.”
The additional space in Eleos will accommodate more customers, and also, Smith hopes, more group meetings. Eleos currently hosts group meetings and Bible studies in its basement, but the new space may prove to be a more comfortable, accessible meeting place, especially for those with disabilities and older adults.
Eleos’ mission is not necessarily to attract big-spending customers, but to provide a welcoming environment for everyone, and to help those in need. Eleos, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, is a place for people to cool down in the summer, warm up in the winter, to take a break, sit down, and have a conversation.
The idea to start a coffee shop surfaced quickly for Smith as he moved to the Northeast and wondered how he could make a difference. Smith said the intersection where Eleos is located is an active area for prostitution and drugs.
“I realized how cool coffee businesses are because they’re so relational,” Smith said. “It’s a good context to invite people in. Some people are used to being asked to leave a business, but we try and engage. That’s what you do at a coffee shop. It provides a good context for us to talk.”