Father-and-son duo Jeff and Zach Bair have been seriously into flowers for more than 15 years at Grimm & Gorly Florist in downtown Belleville.
Eight years ago, they added Cupcakes Too to sweeten things up inside the shop.
Last November, they got to the caffeine.
And with a little shuffling around to create a new business, debuted POUR@322 Coffeehouse & Cupcakes Too. It’s next door at 322 E. Main St., with both an outside entrance — a vivid blue door — and one inside that connects with the florist shop at 324 E. Main.
The idea of putting in a coffeehouse has percolated in the Bair minds for some time now. The long narrow storefront with tall ceilings had been a travel agency before Zach purchased it 4 1/2 years ago. They created an opening between the two spaces and used it for an area where they could meet clients, work on business together and even hold cupcakes parties.
“Lots of times we’ve have clientele who would say, ‘I wish I could just stay here,’” said Zach, 27. The decor is eclectic: Vintage hats dangle from a giant faux tree, arched white church doors work as dividers and create niches and cozy areas for sitting. Colorful vintage and new table and chairs and sofas fill the area. Greenery is everywhere.
The Bairs saw benefits all around by converting the space to yet another use: People who had to wait for a flower arrangement could sit and have a cup of coffee, have a treat, check out greeting cards and generally just enjoy the atmosphere. Plus, they admit it’s nice not having to run out several times a day for a java fix.
“Our love of coffee spilled into this,” said Jeff with a grin. “Now we have a coffee area where people can visit, study, work. It’s easy to find a quiet spot.”
Even beyond the smell of Kaldi’s coffee beans being ground, there’s the faint aroma of fresh-cut flowers and baked goods.
On a weekday afternoon, barista Juan Bourgeat cleaned the espresso machine and straightened cups behind the glass display case at the front of the coffeehouse.
There are the usual coffee choices, in 12-, 16- and 2-ounce sizes, including cappucino and latte ($2.89/$3.59/$3.89), cafe au lait, hot cocoa, hot (loose-leaf) tea and chai tea.
“Our turtle latte is a big seller,” Juan said.
A half-dozen gooey butter cookies in pastel pink and blue perched under a glass dome. The croissants were sold out and the mint fudge brownies were nearly gone; Jeff was taking an order for cupcakes to go.
The top sellers are cupcakes, peanut squares and gooey butter cake, said Zach. Prices range from 69 cents to $2.99.
“It’s all fresh; we have an in-house kitchen,” added Jeff.
Monica Schrader, of Columbia, waited by the counter for her drink — and a sugar cookie for her daughter. “Oh, there’s flowers, there’s friendship, there’s coffee and cookies!” she said, looking around. “I work at the courthouse; I’m a court reporter. I need my coffee.”
Jeff said she’s a regular who calls in her order from her car. She also buys flowers and dried arrangements there.
Zach has learned to use the espresso machine, so you might see him carrying a bouquet of flowers from one room to another, then slip behind the counter to help a coffeehouse customer.
“I’m pretty into it,” he said, laughing.
Jeff laughed. “We’re really into it. It makes us happy.”