Cheers for the New Downtown Coffee Shop

August 1, 2012 | By More

The scene could be straight out of Seattle, Washington – except that the 10 p.m. temperature is still hovering around the 90-degree mark. The coffee house is crowded, but that only adds to the cozy atmosphere. The soft brassy notes of a saxophone meld with the murmur of the crowd and the wonderful smell of coffee and chocolate add to the comfortable atmosphere.

The Crossing is an extension of Wesley Methodist Church, but it’s not what you would expect from a Christian-based organization.

“We saw a need to reach folks where they are with a message of love and community,” states Paula Reeder, Manager of The Crossing.

“This is a place for people to talk, enjoy a cup of coffee, and maybe meet some new friends.”

Paula and her husband Billy Reeder have wanted to help build a sense of community since moving to the River Valley in 1992.

“We like music and we like coffee houses and thought we would try to talk our church into putting something together.”

Paula and Billy’s ideas fell on open hearts.

“In April the dream became a reality. Our goal was to help build that sense of community. We wanted to provide a place where people could meet and talk. One of our ideas about the atmosphere here was that if you’re sitting at a table and hear a discussion at another table about a problem, that you could lean over and say hey, I’ve been there. I think I can help you with that.”

The desire to bring in folks from all walks of life is evident in the rather eclectic range of live entertainment at The Crossing

“We also wanted a place for local people to display their talents… as long as it’s (rated) PG and family friendly. We’ve had bluegrass, jazz, local high school kids and their idea of music, poetry reading, and comedy nights. We’re open to everything, as long as it doesn’t hurt my ears. We even had a nine-year-old named Dillon get up on stage and tell some jokes.”

Local arts and crafts are also featured from time to time said Paula.

“Not only do the local musicians need a place to show off their talents, the local artists do, too. We will often have local art on display here.”

The Crossing offers several types of beverages including a variety of coffee drinks, soft drinks, and homemade desserts.

“We have amazing homemade desserts,” said Paula. “Cheesecake bites, chocolate covered Oreo balls, brownies and if you don’t have a sweet tooth we keep popcorn and mixed nuts on hand.”

Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. The lunch menu consists of soups, salads, and sandwiches. The Crossing is also open Tuesday through Thursday evenings from 7 p.m. until midnight, and on Friday and Saturday evenings from 6 p.m. until midnight.

Live entertainment is on Friday and Saturday nights from 9 p.m. until midnight. Breakfast is served on Saturdays when The Crossing is open from 7 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., in addition to the Saturday evening hours.

“Our goals are to bring in enough money to keep the doors open – an amount we’re not sure about yet – and to give back to the community,” said Paula.

“We do that by providing a comfortable, safe environment for all to come to, but we also have what’s called ‘The Giving Wall.’ When people buy one of our specialty coffees or a soup and salad for lunch, one dollar of that purchase goes to the non- profit of their choice.”

“From April until now we are right at $1,000 given back to the community by giving to these non-profits. We have eight different non-profits on the giving tree: Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Help Network, Habitat for Humanity, Animal Rescue, Savannah Memorial Fund, Age to Age, and the Wesley Methodist Youth Group.”

“Non-profits that want to get on the giving tree can come see me and fill out an application.”

According to Paula, The Giving Wall is central to the ideas of community and charity that inspired the creation of The Crossing.

“It seems like all you hear about in the news lately is greed and we want to offer something different here. We’re not here to make a profit. Our church doesn’t need the money and all of us that work here are volunteers.”

The Crossing also offers community worship at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings. Paula likens Sunday morning worship to a comfortable community gathering.

“We sit around, eat some snacks, drink some coffee, and discuss ways we can better serve our community and our neighbors.”

The food and entertainment are good reasons for a visit to The Crossing. There is really no place quite like it in the River Valley, but Paula and the other volunteers want a personal connection to customers.

“One of the things we strive to do here is to learn everybody’s name. We write names on cups, not just so we can deliver it to the right table, but so we can know who you are. I’m from the ‘Cheers’ generation, when somebody walks in I want to be able to yell ‘Norm’ or ‘Robert’ or whoever you are.”

Isn’t that what everyone is looking for in our world today? Looking for sense of community, a sense of belonging, a place where everybody knows your name.

Story and photos by Johnny Sain 

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