Day of excitement at O’Fallon coffee shop
An O’Fallon coffee shop was caught a little off-guard last month, when producers for the TV show “Ghost Hunters” reached out to ask if they could send a cast and crew to do some filming — the next day.
Owner Laura Land agreed and quickly filled out all the required paperwork.
How could she refuse? The representative from A&E Network had told her that a fall episode in the reality TV series would be set in Southern Illinois and that members of its paranormal investigations team needed a coffee shop where they could chat about their day while cameras rolled.
“They were all the nicest, kindest people,” said managing barista Janae Cooprider, 45. “They loved our coffee, and they said the atmosphere was just perfect.”
The experience was particularly exciting for Cooprider, who had been a fan of “Ghost Hunters” during its first 11 seasons from 2004 to 2016 on the SyFy (formerly Sci-Fi) channel. A&E is bringing back the series this fall.
Host Grant Wilson is working with a new team, talking to forensic experts, sifting through historical documents and otherwise trying to identify or explain paranormal activity at locations throughout the country.
“My family ... We were big fans,” Cooprider said. “We actually tried to see them in St. Louis when they were going to be at the library. But the event was so packed, we couldn’t get in.”
Filming at The CoffeeHouse Co. took place on June 18, but Land couldn’t post it on her Facebook page or tell customers. The staff was sworn to secrecy until A&E announced publicly that it was bringing back the series.
The TV cast and crew consisted of about 15 people, including Wilson, paranormal investigators Kirsten Luman and Daryl Marston, producers and cameramen.
None would give even a hint about where in Southern Illinois they had spent the day filming.
“In less than 15 minutes, (the coffee shop) became a different place,” said Land, 54. “They moved furniture. They took pictures down, and there were all these bright lights. Each one of us had to take a photo, and we had to sign a contract in case we will be included in the background.”
Land wasn’t paid for the hour and a half that the TV show occupied the premises, but cast and crew members all bought something to eat or drink. She had an interesting conversation with Wilson, who once lived in Italy, her native country.
The new “Ghost Hunters” season begins Aug. 21. Producers told Land to check back later to find out which episode will feature the coffee shop.
“We can tell you what they did while they were here, but we can’t tell you what you’ll see on TV,” she said. “We cannot watch any preview, so it will be a surprise for us, too.”
The CoffeeHouse Co. opened in 2002, and Land took over eight years later. Its full name is The CoffeeHouse Co. and Salon Systems because Land also owns a U-shaped hair-styling salon around the coffee shop.
The businesses are in Sunrise Center, across from Marcus O’Fallon Cinema. The coffee shop sells coffees, lattes, espresso drinks, cappuccinos, pastries, desserts, salads, wraps, paninis and smoothies for breakfast and lunch.
“We have a menu that’s more on the healthy side,” Land said. “We try to keep as much of it organic as we can. Nothing is pre-made. Everything is made from scratch. I’m originally from Italy, so I incorporate some Italian recipes.”
The staff created a new drink to commemorate their first TV appearance. The “Ghost Hunter Latte” is made of salted caramel, dark chocolate and toasted marshmallow.
The CoffeeHouse Co. products also can be purchased on Saturday mornings at Vine Street Market in downtown O’Fallon.
“We’re known for our coffees, bakery items and Italian cream soda,” Land said.