Surprise’s Over Coffee serves up beverages, art and music
The Arizona Republic
Apr. 26, 2007
About a year ago, four friends met over coffee and talked about opening their own business. Months later, they launched an independent coffee shop, named Over Coffee.
The co-owners – Jennifer Lancaster, Kirk Douglas, Roxane Gallo and Al Bash – all lived in Surprise’s Northwest Ranch housing development and met while walking their dogs around the neighborhood.
“First and foremost, we wanted it to be a neighborhood coffee shop,” Lancaster said. “We also wanted it to be a venue where people can express themselves.”
To get a neighborhood feel, they leased space at 16572 W. Greenway Road, about a block from Northwest Ranch.
They then stocked their evening staff with students from nearby Willow Canyon High School.
Since its opening in October, the shop has become a well-known outlet among the city’s aspiring artists.
Over Coffee began hosting Surprise’s first publicized open-mike night in November. It also allowed artists to display their work for a 20 percent cut of each piece sold.
Now, painted portraits of bright flowers hang above the shop’s overstuffed chairs.
Nearer to the restrooms, artistic photos of rusty Zippo lighters and vintage car grills sit in chunky wood frames. Handmade blankets, glass jewelry, paintings of famous baseball players and glass window ornaments all rest near the coffee bar. All are for sale.
On Oct. 1, the shop will host its first art show when artist Norma Cox Miller hosts a reception and gallery-style showing of her mixed-media paintings.
The four owners dipped into their savings to open the shop, making it unnecessary to explore an array of small-business loan options. They said their profit margin grows each month.
Lancaster, who formerly worked at Phoenix’s Coffee Reserve, said she developed the menu after attending a coffee festival in Nevada.
She soon added creme brulee and white chocolate raspberry lattes as well as non-dairy smoothies and shakes for kids to the menu. The shop also sells baked goods.
Willow Canyon junior J.R. McCarthy, 17, has worked at the shop since it opened. He said that he and his friends usually attend the open-mike nights on Wednesdays.
Last Wednesday, about 25 customers, some high school students and others older, cheered on friends playing acoustic guitar.
Performances varied, and one included a flute and clarinet duet.
Willow Canyon freshman Angelica Aldaba, 14, said she first heard about the open-mike night a few weeks ago, but that she is quickly spreading the word to her musician friends.
“It gives people an opportunity to get their music out there, to get exposure,” she said.