Recreate the audio atmosphere of Ghostlight Coffee as you read about the journey from an idea to the first anniversary of this local gem.
Sounds of Ghostlight Coffee by Shelly “Gladgirl” Hulce (Opening Song: Me & Mountains – “Dayton, Ohio” from their LP “Feral”)
It’s 1:30am on a hot summer Thursday. As I make my way home up Wayne Ave. from a local rock show when I see the dim lights through the steamed up front window of Ghostlight Coffee. A usual sight, Shane Anderson is behind the bar alone until the wee hours of the morning tending to his shop while most of Dayton sleeps.
It’s been a good 7 months since the shop opened. Lot’s of drinks have been invented, served and consumed. On this late night / early morning Shane is toiling over the popular summer “cold brew” coffee, making sure to meet the demands of the specialty drinks fans. It’s a long tedious process, taking place over a 24 hour period. Special grind, soaking in special crocks on the shelf with ice cold temperatures that need constant monitoring. On the 25th. hour, the laborious steps of pour, drain, sift, squeeze, repeat begins for the concentrated elixir that’s served over an ice filled mason jar.
A task that would test anyones patience, this process could stand as metaphor for the previous 5 years of Anderson’s pilgrimage from the life of a school teacher to his dream of owning a coffee house. A long time coffee connoisseur and student of the coffee arts, it only made since to embark on such an endeavor.
That endeavor would take the better part of a decade to get off the ground.
Many potential partners and locations came and went. With each disappointment and unmet expectation came bigger better possibilities. A resident of the South Park neighborhood of Dayton, Anderson maintained 3 jobs, (working in a local credit union, employed by Muse Machine and executive director of ETC Music Theater), while scrimping and saving towards his dream. That dream lined up with those of his South Park neighbors for betterment of the areas business district. The Wayne Ave. corridor has been under transformation and tight bonds have been made between those business owners and the residents of the neighborhood. Out of such relationships came the offer of a South Park property owner to house the coffee shop of Andersons dreams. Going only on his savings and without a business partner, he began a long exhausting journey of gutting, building, refurnishing and swimming through the sea of red tape it takes to open the doors. Endless long days of getting off work from one job to spending entire days and nights in the shop. During the anticipated stalled out period of zoning issues, he went to work finding the most beautiful re-claimed / recycled wood from demolished Dayton homes via St. Vincent DePauls Deconstruction Depot, eBay auctions for furniture and restaurant equipment and oh the sanding sanding sanding and hours of staining…..”all this for coffee?” you may say.
Now, one year later, it’s clear, this dream included coffee but is more about community. A community of friends, neighbors and an accent on art. As diverse as it’s customer base, the arts that cross the stage, tables and walls of Ghostlight Coffee are an example of the reinvention process taking place not only on the Wayne Ave. corridor in the South Park area of Dayton, Ohio. It’s become a home base for personal growth through new found relationships, exposure to all levels of arts and artists in the area.
The artisan coffees, all made by scratch by outgoing and personable Baristas, are a reflection of the highly creative edge in the area. The art created within the shop itself is indicative of the core of Ghostlight regulars. (and you can see that art on display during the month of November.)
You may enter Ghostlight as a coffee drinker but you quickly skip the step of customer and become family.
In the last year, a band of regulars have found this coffee shop to be “home base”.
Much like the shows “Friends” and “Cheers”, friendships have been fostered, almost creating a cultural event.
Having a background in education and the performing arts, Anderson is sensitive to the working needs of artists and students in the area, employing many actors, musicians and students. This sets up an almost revolving door of staff, which is more of a delight than a hardship for his staffing.
In Nov. of 2011, his opening staff included 2 actors which have gone on to successful productions in New York and Boston. When actor JJ Parkey left in March of ’12 for the boards of Broadway, Anderson quickly networked with artisan coffee houses in New York City, assisting Parkey in landing a position in upscale shop “Kava”. The Ghostlight spirit of love and support wasn’t left in Dayton, Ohio. Quickly Parkey was serving notable celebrities of the arts world at “Kava”, including his long time idol, Joel Grey, star of the musical “Cabaret”. Call it kismet, but Parkey was up for the role as portrayed by Grey decades earlier. With the encouragement of “Kava” owner, he struck up a conversation with Grey and a coffee chat birthed a mentoring friendship.
(Parkey got the part and has since been nominated for Best Actor as a result of that production.)
Tales like this are not unusual among Ghostlight regulars. The power of attraction, a positive and nurturing atmosphere….yes, there’s something “in” the coffee at Ghostlight!
Plans for a small expansion are coming for 2013. Anderson is still surprised by the large and steady stream of patrons. Demand for more music and art based events are also reason to expand.
There’s always room for one more, around the table at this shop.
Happy First Anniversary to Ghostlight Coffee, where everybody knows your name!
“Where Everybody Knows Your Name” (Cheers Theme)
By Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo
Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows
Here are some photos from Ghostlight Coffee’s first year…