Nestled in Downtown Overland Park near the corner of West 80th Street and Metcalf Avenue, Homer’s Coffee House is a neighborhood landmark.
Opened in 2001, Homer’s is a specialty coffee house where both regulars and first-timers dropping in for a cup of java and conversation.
Glenn Winkler is Homer’s general manager and its only full-time employee. Winkler gets a hand from an assistant manager and a cadre of 12 part-time staff, including his wife, Vanessa.
Q: Describe the business.
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“We are a specialty coffee house where we not only serve coffee and espresso drinks, but sandwiches and pastries that we make on site as well as ice cream,” Winkler said. “Messenger Coffee private labels coffee for us.”
Homer’s didn’t add food items until 2010.
“In our previous agreements, we had in our lease that we could not serve sandwiches because we are next to a restaurant, but we worked out in our (new) lease the ability to do it since we are not in the same marketplace as them,” Winkler said.
“With any specialty coffee shop, people like to use our space for work or study, so a lot of people are there a long time, so it’s good to have food for them,” he said.
Homer’s includes a variety of tables and comfortable seating to accommodate the crowd.
While a retail business in style and function, Homer’s is operated as a non-for-profit organization with Byron Whetstone as its executive director.
“Byron was involved in a church planting movement in the city and saw having a place like Homer’s being a hub, an opportunity, to further the movement,” Winkler said. “His goal is to plant small churches out of the store.”
Winkler said several churches have used the space to launch their congregations.
“In our culture today, the cost to maintain a building associated with a church has hindered many bodies of worship. … We like to use our space for freedom from those restraints,” Winkler said.
Currently, two churches use space at Homer’s.
Q: What are the other unique aspects of Homer’s?
In addition to these churches, Homer’s is a live music venue on weekends.
“Every Friday and Saturday night,l we offer live music with no cover charge,” said Winkler, but tips are welcome. “We are open to anybody. … When the space was conceived, it was designed with live music in mind with a professional-level sound system and a stage.”
Homer’s does not serve alcohol, opening it up to a wider audience.
“I’m always excited when a high school student calls to play. … because their friends can come see them play,” Winkler said.
Q: How did you get involved with Homer’s?
A native of Overland Park, Winkler connected with Homer’s in 2008 through his wife, who had been a barista at the coffee house before they were married.
“The previous owners were transferring ownership so they approached us about running the shop,” Winkler said.
Before Homer’s, Winkler worked for a chemical laboratory in Lawrence. With a music degree from Kansas State University, Winkler wanted to be a high school band teacher, but changed his mind. Now he manages the music aspect of Homer’s.
“It’s fun for me,” he said.
The father of three oversees all operations for Homer’s — that means Winkler is often there seven days a week.
“We are constantly juggling the realities of the time commitment of retail/food service with trying to be parents of three little kids,” he said. “A lot of our admin duties are handled by Byron’s other company.”
Winkler handles all the product ordering, manages the staff and makes daily deposits. Vanessa handles the baking side of the business.
“We are constantly grappling with how much to bake,” Winkler said. “We try to inventory so that we have just enough.”
Last remodeled in 2010, changes are in store for Homer’s
“We hope to remodel before the end of the year and expand into space adjacent to us so more people can have meetings, birthday parties,” Winkler said. “Hopefully our kitchen will be able to have more food offerings.”
In a nutshell
COMPANY: Homer’s Coffee House
ADDRESS: 7126 W. 80th St., Overland Park
TELEPHONE: 913 381-6022
WEB SITE: www.homerscoffeehouse.com