A Craving for Community

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns, but often it can lead you to a place of purpose and passion. Such is the case for Brooke and Dan Loutzenhiser who own Stories Coffee Co. Both from rural Nebraska, they met in 2015 after Dan’s wife passed away and he was a widower with two young daughters. Dan and Brooke both worked in the health care industry, but he felt the need to take a step back from the demands of corporate life and instead find a career that enabled him to give back and help others—something that he valued during his time of need.

Coffee has always been a staple in the Loutzenhiser’s life. Dan and his father enjoyed roasting their own coffee together, and he and Brooke loved frequenting coffeehouses, including the original Stories in West Omaha. When the couple learned that the coffeehouse was for sale in 2017 because the previous owners were moving out of state, Dan and Brooke decided to purchase the Stories name. “We knew we wanted to create a space that was welcoming to everyone and an environment where people could come and go all day long, but we didn’t know the exact timing or how it might look and feel,” Dan said.

For the first three years, Stories was a mobile coffee business until the Loutzenhisers opened their first storefront located off 114th & Dodge Streets. Stories opened its doors in March of 2020 only to have to operate solely as a drive thru due to the pandemic. But when it was able to fully open in May, the community embraced the concept, especially with more people working from home who craved a change of scenery, a space for a business meeting, or to meet friends. The coffeeshop even had to upgrade its internet speed to accommodate online traffic from customers.

Stories has retained its allure as an all-day destination, whether it’s coffee in the morning or a cocktail in the evening, complete with live music. It also includes a full menu of breakfast, lunch, happy hour, and dinner specials, with most made in house. What’s changed from the previous concept is that the brand has evolved into a true community space. Whether it’s a family hosting a graduation or baby shower, or a high school student who works at one of the company’s five locations, Stories is “about all of us and taking care of the greater good,” Dan said. In fact, each quarter, the company gives a percentage of its sales to local non-profit organizations. 

In August 2022, the Loutzenhisers opened a location in Gretna and last month opened another in Midtown Crossing at the former Culprit Café location, which will also serve as a centralized kitchen for all the Stories locations. Dan’s 73-year-old father is also still roasting the coffee served at all four shops.

Although the couple now have five coffeeshops and four children at home, they aren’t slowing down. “We thrive off it and don’t like to sit still,” Brooke said. “When we do, we think, ‘what’s next?’” Acknowledging that it gets easier with each shop they open, the couple attributes the success of Stories to surrounding themselves with people who complement their own skills. “We’re creative and we’re visionaries, but we fill holes with others who make us better as a business,” Brooke said. “Expanding is easier once you know who you are as a brand.”

Today, that brand is defined by the high-quality coffee and the high-quality people who enjoy Stories’ lively, friendly vibe. “We were surprised by how much energy a coffeeshop could generate,” Dan said. “Although we have the option for drive-thru and a quick transaction, we also provide a space for people to reconnect and build relationships. We want to be a second home where people can gather. And enjoy great coffee!”

To see a list of upcoming events or reserve space at any Stories location, visit storiescoffeecompany.com.

Get in touch

EDGE MAGAZINE
P.O. Box 620
Elkhorn, NE 68022
Sales 402.587.2259

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