The former Shawnee fire station will be transformed into a coffee shop

The former Shawnee fire station will be transformed into a coffee shop

Courtney Nelson and her husband, John Nelson, will soon open a café in an old fire station.

Courtney Nelson and her husband, John Nelson, will soon open a café in an old fire station.

jthompson@kcstar.com

In the 1970s, the brick building at 19115 Midland Drive in Shawnee was home to volunteer firefighters.

The side of the building, now painted with sunflowers, was a garage door that opened for fire trucks. The fire department then built a larger station, packed its hoses and traveled across the street.

One day, Courtney and John Nelson, now owners of the building, looked at the old firehouse and thought: “A coffee shop?”

Yes, great place for a coffee shop, agreed.

“It’s exciting,” Courtney said. “It’s something we liked and thought it would be a good addition.”

The side of Station 3 is now covered in a sunflower mural, but at one time, a garage door allowed fire engines to enter and exit.
The side of Station 3 is now covered in a sunflower mural, but at one time, a garage door allowed fire engines to enter and exit. Jenna Thompson jthompson@kcstar.com

Early next year, the Nelsons hope to open Station 3 Cafe inside the old Shawnee Fire Station 3. Maybe in January.

Courtney and her husband, as well as her sister-in-law, Betsy Merkins, will serve specialty coffee drinks — iced and hot lattes, and cold brews with flavors — made with Liberty’s Hammerhand coffee beans.

The couple hopes to create their own syrup and offer a variety of seasonal offerings. The store will also offer pastries or some snack food options. Its full roster is still being worked on.

Despite the space’s history, it won’t be filled with firehouse decor. Located between Mill Creek and Little Mill Creek — and back to the winding trails and Shawnee Mission Park — Station 3 will feature an outdoor patio and murals that pay homage to its natural surroundings.

(Therefore, there is no pillar of fire passing through the middle of space.)

One wall is covered with painted hills. The ripples flow on the other side of the store, just like the streams next to it.

Just behind the store is Twin Mill Farm, owned by the Nelsons, where they ride horses.

It is believed that the soon-to-open café was initially a petrol station, built in the 1930s. The fire department took over in 1971 and remained there until 1989. After that, it housed a concrete company.

In 2015, the Nelsons bought the old firehouse near their farm and they and their grown children used it as a large playground. John and his son are both climbers, so they installed a rock climbing wall.

But this year, the empty-nesters decided to give the place another makeover after their interest in coffee grew. They even traveled to Seattle’s Coffee Center to attend barista classes, learning how to make art in hot, milk-frothed lattes.

“We just like to find unique spaces around town or if we’re traveling and enjoy seeing what they have to offer,” Courtney said.

Because of its proximity to parks and hiking trails, Courtney says the farm gets a fair amount of foot traffic. They got positive feedback from passersby who asked about their plans for the building.

During the holiday season, they put up Christmas lights along Lawrence Road and decorated an old train car they called the “Christmas Caboose.”

“There are a lot of people anticipating it, wondering when it will be ready,” she said.

Courtney said the Nelsons’ two adult children are looking forward to frequenting the new café as well. There are no hard feelings about losing the old “family room.”

Station 3 Café offers lattes, cold drinks and snack options.
Station 3 Café offers lattes, cold drinks and snack options. Jenna Thompson jthompson@kcstar.com

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Jenna Thompson covers retail news for the Kansas City Star. A native of Lincoln, Nebraska, she previously worked as a reporter for the Lincoln Journal Star and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she studied journalism and English.

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