Stories Coffeehouse…is it a coffeehouse or is it a story? For owners Kevin and Amber Christ, it’s both. They define the concept for Stories as “simple synergy” and said it provides the perfect environment for individually-owned start-up culinary companies to launch and flourish. With access to commercial kitchen space, shared rent and overhead, reduced risk, and several passionate business owners driving traffic to one location, the business model is not only innovative but bold. With décor rich in history and a touch of whimsy, customers can expect much more than a coffeehouse.
Stories Coffeehouse has a story. When it first opened over two years ago, six home-based businesses came together to share costs and space. Homemade by Amber, owned by Amber Christ, was one of those first six businesses. She had been looking for kitchen space to promote and expand her ready-to-bake meal business. She couldn’t find kitchen space options until Stories Coffeehouse. A couple months before the coffeehouse opened in July 2013, Amber’s brother-in-law, Juston Terpstra who has more than 25 years of culinary experience, came on board as the Stories Coffeehouse’s fulltime chef.
They developed full lunch and dinner menus, including appetizers and a limited breakfast menu by working together to get a home-cooked and “comfort foods” feel. All items are made from scratch, including an in-house smoked Gouda four cheese macaroni, peanut butter chicken tortillas, homemade meatloaf and offering soups created from scratch daily, such as jalapeño chicken corn chowder, creamy chicken artichoke, butternut squash, and chicken salsa.
Six other businesses are currently sharing space at Stories Coffeehouse, which Amber said serves as a stepping stone for these businesses. “We consider this to be an incubator platform,” she said. “Some people will learn they love having their own business and might move beyond this space. Others like it here and will stay long-term, while some people realize it’s just too much for them to own a business. But we’ve always been able to bring in just the right mix of businesses.”
With a customer’s single purchase, they can support several local businesses in the Omaha area including Carried Away Confections, Black Bottom Biscotti, Junque Shed, Granny Mae’s Kettle Corn, Beansmith Coffee, A Hill of Beans Coffee, Old World Oil and Vinegar, LePetit French Bakery, Bliss Old Market Bakery, and The Cordial Cherry. Carried Away Confections bakes in-house peanut butter monster oatmeal cookies infused with vanilla bean blond beer from Infusion Brewery in Benson. Much of the décor in the coffeehouse is for sale from another business, Junque Shed, and Stories Coffeehouse supports local musicians with its live music every Friday and Saturday night, and contemporary Christian music on Tuesday nights.
Kevin said Stories Coffeehouse has a family feel. In fact, his daughter Jaelyn has worked at Stories Coffeehouse since it opened, and for her it’s definitely home. “No matter what is going on in my personal life, Stories has always been my constant,” she said. “Seeing the customers and staff always makes me feel good. I know our customers’ names and faces, and they come here knowing we’ll pamper them.”
Stories Coffeehouse has a loyal customer base and continues to grow their presence in Omaha. They also want to get the word out that they are more than a coffeehouse “We have food, desserts, wine, microbrews, coffee liqueur drinks, mimosas, and bloody mary’s made with homemade bloody mary mix and house infused vodka,” Kevin said. Stories Coffeehouse goes well beyond what they offer to eat and drink. A shared passion and conviction of business owners and dedicated employees at Stories Coffeehouse plays a supportive role in creating a community that encourages companionship, comfort, and a welcoming and honoring hospitality. “It’s personal,” Kevin added. “It’s a community for people and relationships. It’s about comfort and it’s about love.”