KEARNEY — Kearney entrepreneur and investor Alissa Kern-Pierce and her husband Ryan Pierce hope to fill their customers’ cups at their new coffee and alcohol bar.
Literally, the couple fills cups with coffee, Italian soda and smoothies, and soon will serve alcohol at The Cup, 12 E. 21st St., in downtown Kearney.
Figuratively, they aim to fill their guests’ cups with energy needed for the day.
“It’s our mission to always have a full cup ... If your cup that morning is half-empty, we want you to come that morning and fill it up with us,” Kern-Pierce said.
She and Pierce opened their business on Dec. 1. Their 1,000-square-foot shop offers a cozy environment for people to relax and fill their cups.
When they took ownership of the building in 2018, they exposed the brick on the exterior wall and added upper windows. They remodeled the subfloor and installed new wood flooring. They installed a furnace.
Kern-Pierce and Pierce sold the building to the owners of the bar, Public 22 House, in 2019, but repurchased the building after the bar closed earlier this year.
Since then, they added a small kitchen where they can prepare light meals, such as salads and sandwiches, and store the ingredients.
In the dining area, they have a corner bar where coffee, juices and sodas are served. Next to the bar seating, large, movable booths allow for intimate conversation. Tables and chairs in the main seating area also can be moved, which makes it easy to switch from a quiet study session to group meets.
In one corner, friends can sit on a plush green couch and chair while enjoying a board game. And in another corner, someone could soak in the window light while sitting in a brown leather chair.
Kern-Pierce said she, Pierce and an employee intentionally designed the furniture in the space to fit different situations.
“We’re three different venues in one space. Right now in the morning, quieter, a lot of business. People are just coming in to get homework done or just have maybe a little one to one with a friend,” she said as she held a cup of morning coffee last week at The Cup.
“At noon, you have people coming in for that little social hour. ‘Let’s meet. Let’s go get lunch.’ So we’ve seen those. And then we’re hoping in the evening we’ll get that other crowd. ‘We’re getting off work and we want a drink before we go home,’ or ‘I need a drink.’”
After Kern-Pierce and Pierce get their liquor license later this month, they will serve wine, spirits and beer. They plan to have a soft opening for their alcohol bar on New Year’s Eve.
Customers may even choose to put a shot of alcohol in their coffee.
“If you want an Irish coffee at 7 in the morning, I can get it for you,” Kern-Pierce said.
Whether purchasing a specialty coffee, an alcoholic beverage or food, Kern-Pierce and Pierce provide a picture of the product on their menu.
“We don’t want anybody to walk in and feel like they don’t know how to order a froufrou drink. Sometimes it’s intimidating to go into places and they’re just really not sure,” she said.
Kern-Pierce and Pierce also have created a personal setting by allowing their customers to use their own unique coffee mug or glass. Customers may choose a random cup hanging from the dining room wall or bring their own mug.
“We want people to pick their own cup,” Kern-Pierce said. “What mood are you in today? Are you in a fun mood? Serious mood?”
Customers also may purchase a mug from The Cup. With that purchase, they get a free drink.
Kern-Pierce said they wash and sanitize every cup before filling them with beverages.
They are taking cup donations from people who don’t want them anymore. Their first donation was a Kearney Police Department mug donated by an officer.
“We’re hoping that one day our entire wall is full of cups,” Kern-Pierce said.
If customers are feeling generous, they also may purchase a drink for someone and write a note for that person on the “Fill Someone’s Cup” chalkboard.
Kern-Pierce doesn’t only want to fill her customers’ cups, but seeks to be fair in her business practice. She purchases her coffee beans from the nonprofit organization, Coffee 4 Missions, which Kern-Pierce said 20% of its sales are given to Christian ministries in countries where the beans were grown and harvested. The coffee beans are 100% Arabic.
“My mission is to always have a mission,” Kern-Pierce said.