Thursday, December 12, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
Elissa, left, and Robert Vanlandingham took over Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli on Sept. 1. They want the downtown Dallas coffee shop to remain a community center.
October 15, 2013
DALLAS -- For Robert and Elissa Vanlandingham, the new owners of Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli, it was all about establishing a deeper connection to their community.
Neither had worked in a coffee shop before, but believed the bustling cafe in the heart of downtown Dallas could become the kind of community hub they envisioned -- for loyal customers and newcomers a like.
"We've been learning a lot," Elissa said. "It's been fun to meet people around here, the regulars who frequent the shop, getting to know them by name. It's fun to see familiar faces every day. That's probably the most fun I've had working here ... just getting to know people."
The Vanlandinghams took over from former owners Jeff and Robin Mexico on Sept. 1 and reopened the doors to customers on Labor Day.
The couple, who moved to Dallas from Corvallis with their three daughters in September, is slowly beginning to put their own brand on the menu and decor.
They've added cinnamon rolls, quiche and new salad varieties, such as mandarin chicken and apple walnut to the menu. They will tweak the list of offerings more as time goes on, but as first-time coffee shop owners they didn't want to stray too far from what customers have come to expect from Courtyard.
"We wanted to feel it out in the first month or so and not lose all our customers because they didn't like the new menu," Robert Vanlandingham said.
They plan to launch a rotating artist of the month type of display soon, he added.
The couple -- who, for the most part, operate the shop by themselves -- want Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli to be more than a place to get the daily caffeine fix. Their vision for the coffee shop is creating a place where people can come to connect over good coffee, food and conversation.
"We just wanted to be part of the community in a whole different way ... really just be a meaningful part of the community," Robert said.
Elissa added they hope customers will come to see them as more than just the people behind the counter serving the morning latte or mocha.
"We encourage people to come in and introduce themselves to us," Elissa said. "We would like to meet more people, not just take their coffee order, but to meet them as people."
Stop In, Say `Hi'
What: Courtyard Coffeehouse & Deli.
Address: 156 SE Mill St., Dallas.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed Sunday.
For more information: 503-623-9686.