Organic alien anniversary
Thu, Nov 12, 2009 (3:45 p.m.)
Photo: Laura Davis
With a menu item titled Aliens left a burrito in the Middle East, local music act Rushmore Beekeepers set up in the corner and paintings of robots and animal skeletons on the wall, there may be the smell of coffee in the air, but something tells us we’re not in Starbucks.
Sunrise Coffee is celebrating their one-year anniversary on Friday. The all-organic coffee house on Sunset Road is the brainchild of local owner’s Juanny Romero and Joshua Walter. The idea for it came about when the couple realized the non-corporate, neighborhood coffee house niche, popular in other cities, was largely unfilled in the Vegas valley.
“When we opened this place we wanted a community because we felt isolated,” explained Romero. “I go to California and I love hanging out in these coffee houses where each one is very personal and unique. We wanted to do that. We were like, ‘Why not open our own?’ I didn’t know you actually had to work so hard!” she said with a laugh.
The hard work has paid off. The community has taken them in with open arms. In a weak economy, that has made all the difference.
“The people have been so loving,” said Romero. “The customers are the reason we’ve survived. They come back and spend money and say, ‘We cannot let you close because if you do, then what else is there?’ That’s the only reason we can celebrate a one-year anniversary.”
The reception has been exceptionally warm from the local art scene thanks to Sunrise Coffee’s partnership with Avant Arts Collective. The local group curates all the pieces displayed in the café and brings in local bands to play acoustic sets.
“It’s worked out really well,” said Romero of the collaboration. “We don’t take any fees, there’s no consignment; it’s just to support the local art community. The only stipulation I had was for it to be reasonably priced so anyone can come in and buy it.” As for the bands, the coffee house may not be able to pay them, but they do offer a venue and free drinks for the night.
In return Sunrise Coffee has gotten a customer base they may not otherwise have tapped into. “We have all the hipsters coming here and all the punk rockers – there’s a community about it and they’re very loyal,” Romero said.
It’s not just the local art affiliation that brings in business, though. Offering a healthy coffee shop to the Las Vegas area has pulled in a crowd all its own. Every drink on the menu is organic and can be made to custom fit each customer’s individual needs and desires, and all the food items are Romero’s personal recipes, which come prepared vegetarian with vegan alternatives.
The attention to detail doesn’t hurt either. The coffee served is exclusive to Sunrise. “Josh is our roast master,” said Romero of Walter. “Our espresso, all our coffee, is custom profiled for our store. [You have to ask yourself] ‘If I want to make a latte, what flavors do I want to bring out?’ He made a profile based on what he felt was correct and we use that. Our espresso you can only find here.”
The first year of opening was not without hurdles, but Romero and Walter are starting to gain traction. “We’re finally breaking even. We hemorrhaged the first year – oh my goodness, I thought I was going to die. It really humbles you opening a business; it makes you realize there’s no magic wand,” Romero confessed. “I’m grateful for as long as we keep our doors open. It feels good. Before I only had like five friends, and now I have 200.”
It’s this attitude and a desire to give back that has influenced how Sunrise Coffee is choosing to celebrate its big day. Teaming up with vegan chef Mayra (who uses her first name only), Trader Joe’s Henderson store and IPTouch Animal Massage, they’re hosting Dollar for Dogs Donation Drive, a fundraiser for the Adopt-A-Rescue-Pet organization.
Customers can purchase a vegan meal prepared by chef Mayra for $20, participate in a raffle for a gift basket, listen to live music and sip on Sunrise’s special brew of coffee. All the proceeds from chef Mayra’s food will go to Adopt-A-Rescue-Pet, as will 50 percent of Sunrise Coffee’s sales during the event.
If all goes well, the café plans on regularly hosting the fundraiser.