Coffee shop to change hands again
Trouble finding staff to run a women’s ministry out of the building has prompted Zera Coffee to close May 27.
Kari Newell, who owns Chef’s Plate at Parlour 1886 at the Historic Elgin Hotel, is taking over operation of the coffee shop.
She plans to add items such as breakfast burritos and biscuits and gravy as well as light lunch items such as salads and panini sandwiches. She also is looking to expand drink offerings.
“We’ll finish out that weekend,” said Dustin Sharpe, a former regional director for Denton Freedom House who ran Zera with his wife, Andrea.
Sharpe set the closing six weeks out to give people a chance to redeem Zera Coffee gift cards.
“We had amazing support for gift card purchases for Christmas,” he said. “And I think we’ve seen only a third of those redeemed. I really want to see all of those redeemed.”
People with gift cards may use them for anything in the shop, situated across from the Historic Elgin Hotel.
Freedom House rented Zera’s building from owners Duke and Glenda McCord. Glenda McCord is Elgin owner Tammy Ensey’s mother.
“Zera is here only for the ministry, and we haven’t had staff in to run the ministry,” Sharpe said. “We were trying to get staff by sending someone already trained from Denton, which turned out not to be a possibility at all because they’re actually understaffed in Denton. We’ve had feelers out for four or five months here, too, and just haven’t been able to fill it.”
Freedom House operates a coffee shop in Denton.
“Since we’re a nonprofit that’s only here because of the ministry aspect, the board just decided it’s time for us to close shop and regroup in Texas,” Sharpe said.
Zera in Marion opened Jan. 15, 2022.
“They approached us just to see if we would want to do something here,” Sharpe said of the McCords. “The equipment was already here.”
Glenda McCord “had the idea or the heart to make this home a ministry,” Sharpe said.
The building housed Dorothy’s Coffee and Tea Room before Zera. The concept at Dorothy’s was to break even and provide marriage counseling there.
“After Dorothy’s had to close, they still hoped to have some form of ministry here,” Sharpe said,
Glenda McCord’s son, Phillip Hayes, who volunteered at Denton Freedom House, helped get Zera in Marion.
“When he found out about Freedom House and found out about Zera, he thought ‘Maybe this is a fit,’ ” Sharpe said.
Freedom House operates programs for men and women who it says are struggling with addiction. Zera in Marion intended to serve women in the home’s upstairs.
That never took off.
Zera primarily sells coffee and other drinks, ice cream, and baked goods such as scones and muffins. It offered a weekly soup this past winter. Newell doesn’t plan to remove any items from the current menu — only add them.
Sharpe, whose family bought a home in Marion, has resigned from Freedom House and is starting a residential construction company, Upright Homes Construction, with partner Douglas Calam. Upright will focus on residential projects from remodeling to new builds.
Newell had advertised for a day kitchen manager at the Elgin because she wanted to begin offering lunch there.
“For now, this will take care of that,” she said of the coffee shop, which she has not yet named.
She will hire staff for the shop, which is across the street from Chef’s Plate.
“We’re hoping to have a very smooth transition with minimal to no downtime,” she said.
Newell hopes to have enough staff to expand hours.
She recently purchased Parlour 1886 from the Elgin’s owners. She already had her eye on the coffee shop, so when she learned Zera was closing, she approached Ensey’s family.
“They said ‘You’re welcome to jump in head first,’ ” Newell said.
This year has been full of changes and opportunities for Newell.
“I’m either absolutely insane or very blessed or a combination of the two,” she said.