LEXINGTON -- Lexington’s newest business is powered by caffeine.
Nickel & Bean was inspired by its life-saving impact on a local boy, built through more than a year of coffee-fueled hard work and will sell a variety of caffeinated beverages, of course.
Lexington natives, Stephen Webster and Stacie Elkhoury, set out to open a coffee shop in the village shortly after their youngest sibling, Shellie Wong, gave birth to a baby boy several months early in November 2017.
The boy, named River, spent his first several weeks of life in the neonatal intensive care unit, where his vitals were kept up with caffeine.
“This is home to us, and we just felt really compelled to make a mark in the community that made us -- it’s a big part of my why -- but River was and is the inspiration for this entire concept,” Elkhoury said.
As River gained his strength and became a healthy baby boy, his aunt and uncle’s own vision for a coffee shop in their hometown grew alongside him.
They had purchased the former Lexington Antiques and Collectibles building at 27 E. Main St. in early 2018 and began the 175-year-old building’s long rehabilitation process, which included re-pointing nearly every exterior brick and replacing a portion of its south-facing wall and the entire roof.
“We knew there'd have to be some sort of maintenance to bring it up to being a sturdy sound structure, but unfortunately, like in just about any rehabilitation project, we found a lot more work than we thought,” Webster said.
Further, they installed heating and cooling systems, updated the building’s electrical work and tore up rotting floorboards.
“I mean, we basically rebuilt this 200-year-old building,” Elkhoury said.
Then, they reincorporated floorboards and even a truss from the roof into the coffee shop’s design. The boards were created into several table tops, and the truss was used as a base for the longest table.
Opening a coffee shop elsewhere, the siblings admit, would have been easier and likely more cost effective, but they wanted to “cultivate a space at home that felt like home” and was in close proximity to the bike trail, their former high school and other businesses in the heart of Lexington.
“This was our whole vision of the brand. It had the feeling, the emotion,” Elkhoury said. “This building, once we stepped foot in it, it looked a lot different then than it does now, and it was overwhelming, but it was equal parts overwhelming and inspiring.
“The building was just so powerful. I mean, every brick tells a story. You can see the ax marks on the beams. There was just so much inspiration that we found even within its dilapidated state of being."
She immediately felt as if the building was meant to be part of her story. It needed to be Nickel & Bean’s location.
General manager and River’s father, Nicky Wong, also chimed in about the location.
“It's exciting to have a whole new coffee business that I think is overdue for this area. We had definitely needed something as a good hangout spot, a community meeting area,” Wong said.
He and his wife, Shellie, even serve as the shop’s namesake. Nickel for Nicky, and Bean for Shellie, as that was her childhood nickname.
And further, to play on the name, every menu item’s price will end in an increment of five, Elkhoury said. That extra nickel will go towards the non-profit, chosen by the coffee shop’s monthly honoree, who will be highlighted on the coffee shop wall.
Nickel & Bean will feature pour-over coffee, dozens of specialty espresso drinks, smoothies and fresh-made baked goods daily.
The bakery menu includes biscuits, muffins, quiches and scones, which can come with made-from-scratch jams. Some flavors are orange marmalade, lemon curd and strawberry.
“We’ll have offerings for everything and all times of day. I mean, we want to have treats, sweets and snacks for any time, and we’re going to keep adapting to what people want and we’ll have seasonal items that change,” Elkhoury said.
She noted that vegetarian, dairy-free and gluten-free options will be available by the grand opening, too.
“Our menu it’s geared towards not just commuters, not just coffee drinkers, but also just people that want to come use the community table and work on their laptops and teenagers after school,” she said.
She was especially excited for the special $2.25 milk and cookies offer around 3:30 p.m. for students and their families to come by after school.
Since remodeled and re-imagined, Nickel & Bean’s space features three distinct seating areas, which the owners hope provide environments that anyone feels comfortable enjoying.
The easiest to spot to find is the seating directly beside the cafe.
“If you want the hustle and bustle cafe scene, you can be in there and maybe the barista is talking to people about coffee culture,” Elkhoury said.
The next features a long table -- the one made of the roof’s truss -- and two small, cozy corner booths. This one is meant to also serve as a gathering space.
And the third is called the “library,” which is tucked back past the second space.
“It’s more of a work space,” Elkhoury said. “It’s tucked back out of the hustle and bustle, the traffic.”
Further, a drive-thru window will be open for an added level of convenience.
Nickel & Bean is currently open daily for friends and family and will gradually continue into a soft opening with hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. A larger scale grand opening is planned for early July.