DAKOTA DUNES — Growing the business was something the owners of Stone Bru had percolated over even before they opened the chain’s first coffee shop in Sioux City.
Less than two years after converting a former Burger King at the intersection of Gordon Drive and Stone Avenue into a 600-square-foot Morningside staple, Stone Bru No. 2 opened just across the border in Dakota Dunes.
“Anytime you get into a business venture you should plan on growing, and if you’re not planning on growing then you’re probably dying,” said Stone Bru co-owner Brad Lepper.
Lepper and his business partner, Robby Jennings opened the first Stone Bru on Dec. 17, 2015.
While the duo have always wanted to expand, they were able to score a prime location on the first floor of the three-story 35,000-square-feet Gold Circle Centre at 400 Gold Circle in the Dunes thanks to Central Bank, a fellow first-floor tenant.
Officials at the bank approached Stone Bru about occupying 1,500-square-feet space on the first floor of the new state-of-the-art office building and Lepper said they welcomed the opportunity.
“One thing we’re excited about here is there wasn’t an opportunity for a drive-thru, but we have seen at our current store that there is a big demand for people that want to come in and just enjoy the coffee shop atmosphere; they want to smell the coffee, they want to listen to the music and sit down at a nice table or a couch and converse with their friends or their family,” Lepper said. “That’s what this store will really emphasize.”
Stone Bru No. 2 will be able to seat about 40 people comfortably indoors and the outdoor patio can seat another 24 patrons.
Additionally, when the bank is closed on weekends, there is potential to add more seating in building’s lobby during events such as live musical performances.
With this second store being more than twice as large as the original, Lepper and Jennings really wanted to go all in on the aesthetic, the equipment and the menu.
Hannah Lepper described the new store’s aesthetic as modern industrial with an organic twist.
The shop will have an open lobby that offers views of the patio and waterfall style fountain near the building’s entrance. The store's interior will feature a living wall made of moss, another wall that highlights chalk art from a local artist, and the kitchen area walls will have white subway-style white tiles accented by black cabinetry and black equipment. Some of the new equipment includes a pour over machine shipped over from Ireland and in the counter state-of-the-art espresso machine from La Marzocco USA of Seattle that will be the first of its kind installed in America.
Even the tables at new Stone Bru have an artisan flair to them. Each table was handmade at Ecovet Furniture, an Arkansas-based firm that extensively employs former military members and uses wood reclaimed from the interiors of decommissioned semi-trailer to build its products.
The menu was co-curated with chef Kirk Phillips of the Red Steakhouse in Vermillion and the ingredients used are either all-natural or organic and were locally sourced. An expanded menu is something Stone Bru's ownership wanted at the new store and customers can dine on a variety of breakfast items, soups and salads.
Some of the entrees include an artisan breakfast bagel composed of applewood bacon, an heirloom tomato, sharp Tillamook cheddar and a farm fresh egg; and a roasted tomato bisque featuring garlic croutons, virgin olive oil and fresh herbs; and a kale & farro Caesar salad made up blanched and roasted farro – a type of grain – shredded kale, house-made Caesar dressing and parmesan croutons.
While the coffee shop is an obvious amenity to the people who will work in the office building it’s housed in and other nearby office workers, Lepper also hopes it will entice Dunes residents to pop in for a drink or a quick bite to eat.
“We’re bringing in a different a clientele that might not already be a customer of Central Bank or might not be looking to buy a house because they’re coming here to get a cup of coffee, (and) they remember, ‘Oh, maybe I should go check these guys out when I need their services.’” he said.
With store No. 2 up and running, barista businessmen are open to the possibility of developing more Stone Bru stores in the future.
“I would love to be able to grow and do more locations; maybe more in Sioux City or even expanding out into other cities too,” Lepper said.