Since setting up shop two years back in the Ohio City Firehouse building, Rising Star Coffee has quickly become the bean of choice at numerous coffee shops, restaurants and cafes. Owner Kim Jenkins puts quality above all else, buying only the top one percent of beans, roasting them on-site, and brewing coffee one cup at a time using the proper equipment and techniques.
Beginning as soon as this Friday, fans of the brewed perfection can get their fix in Little Italy. The new shop is located at the corner of Murray Hill and Edghill roads, in the former home of Theresa's Italian Restaurant, which closed in 1996 after 50 years in business. After more than eight months of construction, Jenkins and his team have transformed a neglected eyesore into a bright and pleasant neighborhood café.
“When we first came in here, the place was really rundown,” Jenkins says from behind his new coffee bar. “I was worried that we’d be able to do something elegant in here. But I think it turned out beautiful. This space fits our theme of rehabilitating older buildings, like we did at the firehouse in Ohio City.”
When Theresa's closed, management pretty much left everything as is. Jenkins and his crew managed to salvage a good deal of the inventory. Dining room tabletops were repurposed into new tables. A beefy old Boos butcher block provides additional counter space. And an upright piano doubles as a display for some retail product.
The two shops might differ in look and feel, but Little Italy will employ the very same equipment and same intense barista training. “Quality is nonnegotiable with us,” says Jenkins. “We will always strive to serve the best beverages that we can. In that way, the shops will be similar.”
Unique to the Little Italy shop is a lengthy wrap-around bar where customers can sit and enjoy counter service. Behind the wood-slab counter, roving baristas — much like bartenders — will prepare your pour-over, aeropress or vacuum-pot coffee right in front of you for a more interactive (and comfortable) experience.
Rising Star not only sells its full line of beans — whole or ground — but also high-end brewing equipment for home use. “All of the equipment we use here, we also sell here,” explains GM Robert Stockham. “Not only that, but we’ll teach you how to use it. That’s an advantage of buying from us.”
The roasting operation will remain in the Ohio City shop until a dedicated off-site location is secured, which will free up much-needed seating space in that shop while allowing for the expansion of the wholesale coffee business.
Given the makeup of the neighborhood, which is flush with students and medical professionals, this shop will remain open later in the day than its west-side sibling, until at least 8 p.m.
“We just think Ohio City and Little Italy are hot neighborhoods, and we’re excited to become a part of this community,” add Jenkins.
Look for Rising Star to open this Friday at the soonest or early next week at the latest.