Sipping on a luscious blueberry smoothie at one of the sturdy wooden tables at Gypsy Beans & Baking Co. on the corner of Detroit and W. 65th St., owner and proprietor Nicole Gillota surveys her clientele.
"It's weird calling them customers," she says. "They're really more like friends, you know? I had a guy who came in the other day who said, 'I feel like I know you better than I know my wife. At least I see you for coffee every morning.'"
Gillota's is certainly a friendly face to see at the crack of dawn. She wakes up at 5:30 every day, dresses her 1-year-old and drives in from her home in North Ridgeville. She grew up on a 100-acre farm in southern Ohio, so the rural setting is a comfort to her. Nonetheless, she loves the bustle of her coffee shop in the urban neighborhood of Gordon Square. She chats up construction workers, "little old ladies," pharmaceutical reps and soccer moms on a daily basis.
And though she loves interacting with the neighborhood, more often than not she's in the kitchen, baking up a storm.
"Almost everything on the menu we make right here," says Gillota, "and 80 percent of our product we get within a 500-mile radius. We make our own hummus. We make our own salsa."
Gillota, a trained chef, says the only reason she decided to open a coffee shop instead of a restaurant is because her holidays, nights and weekends are sacred to her.
"I feel like those times are the most important to family," she says. "I make dinner with my family every night. We all have Thanksgiving right here." She gestures to Gypsy's floor.
Gillota's also a die-hard motorcycle fanatic, hunter and single mom. She's one of the most unique and most gracious business owners in the city and says that it's nice to finally be able to relax a little bit
"We're in a position where the routine is established, and the daily grind has lessened a little bit," she says. "Now, it's just about fostering it and watching it grow."