By Jill Draper
Traditional European-style coffee drinks—lattes, cappuccinos and espressos—will mix it up with South American treats like arepas and cachapas when a new coffee shop opens on Holmes Road in 2018.
If all goes according to schedule, the Martin City Coffeehouse will open in March or April, says Penelope Romero, manager and co-owner along with partner Rick Ramsey. Work already has begun on the foundation, and the steel framework will go up in early December. The 2,100-square-foot facility at 13115 Holmes Road will have seating for up to 50 customers plus a drive-through window.
Romero and Ramsey, who also run Affordable Plumbing & Sewer LLC, purchased the lot where the coffee shop is being built when it came available after the Mulch Mart closed. “It’s a good location,” says Romero, whose 22-year-old son Ty Crisp will help with the shop.
The coffee they sell will come from Intelligentsia in Chicago, and she’s still deciding on a wholesale supplier for baked goods such as scones, homemade donuts, cookies, cupcakes, coffeecakes and other pastries, including vegan options (Romero is a vegan). Some unusual additions to the menu, though, will feature arepas, thin corn meal patties stuffed with fillings like chicken and avocado or pork and chimichurri sauce, and a sweet corn pancake called cachapas (Spanish for crumpets) served with a soft, salty cheese and jalapenos.
Romero was born in the United States but spent much of her youth in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. She says these foods represent her South and Central American experience.
“I’ve been making arepas and cachapas all my life,” she says. “Friends and family keep telling me, ‘You’ve got to offer those at the coffee house!’”
Romero says she moved to Kansas City after researching places that would be a good place to raise children and provide job opportunities along with a great cultural environment. She especially enjoys the network of trails and parks in the area. Her past jobs have included working as an insurance agent, customer service manager for a sporting goods manufacturing company, and various positions at restaurants.
The coffee shop will be open from early morning until 5 or 6 p.m. in order to meet the needs of nearby business people. “I’m still figuring out the menu and other details,” Romero says, “but I’m really excited. The Martin City community is the place to be!”