“I can’t say what exactly the secret sauce is, but I think it’s the way we treat people,” muses Abby Lauren on a recent and uncommonly warm Sunday afternoon. Lauren is one of six co-owners/founders of Loyal Coffee Co., whose original downtown location opened in 2016. But this afternoon she was managing Loyal’s newest cafe, amiably chatting with guests throughout the new space that is Loyal’s second location. She’s been pouring herself into the new locale for the past three months and was demonstrably excited.
Discussion turned from the Cerberus beer on tap to how Loyal’s new and very different scene was finding incredible traction amongst the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses. From 800-pound gorillas, like Compassion International and New Life Church, to any of the surrounding small companies, “We see a bunch of people coming from local business on their breaks,” understandably drawn to Loyal’s boutique quality coffee, coffee spin-offs (like the cold brew and tonic) and the unique food menu (try the grain bowl, or any of the toasts).
One might expect the guests to be divergent from those at Loyal’s downtown location. But Lauren explains that’s not really the case.
“The longer we’ve been open, the more diverse we’ve seen the clientele. We’ve got people who were regulars downtown who all of a sudden appear here. Turns out, they live up here and were making the trip to see us downtown.”
Frankly, the mix of folks seen around the cafe and standing in line was surprising. Far from homogenous, nearly all ages and demographics were represented, undoubtedly all drawn to the new space. It’s almost like being transported out of north Springs to somewhere far edgier and hip, yet still warm and inviting. That’s a difficult mix to balance well.
“We had more knowledge from the past experience of our first location,” Lauren explains. “And more freedom to make cooler things happen.” Cooler, or “warmer,” is right. While the theme remains similar between the two locations, there is something nearly ineffable about Loyal North.
“I hear this a lot from people,” Lauren says. “The aesthetic is a little more mature, with more textures, more colors, a little more organic, richer.”
This design is difficult to miss. The color palate is most noticeable, the juxtaposition between the classic white and darker blues; then there’s the layout, the way bar seating wraps around the backside of the coffee bar, visually divided with Loyal’s signature twine ropes. The semi-private booths are far more usable than those downtown, where space constrained design and continues to constrain guests. More seating and parking overall is a welcome product of north Springs’ sprawling spaces.
Doubts of specialty coffee’s success outside of the downtown area are proving unfounded. Key movers within Loyal’s top ranks were envisioning this northern expansion years ago, proving a keen awareness of a widespread demand for high-end coffee, and a well-founded confidence in Loyal’s ability to offer a space highly desired for both its compelling style and warmth of welcome.
Being welcoming is in Loyal’s DNA. It’s in their tag line: “Community by way of coffee.” Lauren points to that and emphasizes its truth.
“That’s what makes the big difference. It’s been our whole reason for being. It’s the way that we train; it’s the way that we hire. It’s taking care of the humans in front of us, paying attention to their inherent value. That’s the key piece,” she says with compelling genuineness. “We can be as (coffee) nerdy as we want, about anything we want, but that’s just a vehicle to love on people. That’s what makes people comfortable to come in. That’s what makes them come back. That’s when people are like, ‘You know what? I think I’m gonna be okay with this hip-hop playing at 7 a.m. in the cafe.’”