VIENNA — Travelers on Highway 63 may have noticed a four-toned bus parked off the highway about one mile north of Vienna. The bus and its accompanying deck are the site of the newest additions …
VIENNA — Travelers on Highway 63 may have noticed a four-toned bus parked off the highway about one mile north of Vienna. The bus and its accompanying deck are the site of the newest additions to the Vienna Chamber of Commerce (VCOC): The Bus Stop — Coffee & Gathered Goods.
The Bus Stop opened in April under the ownership of Kendall Stratman of Vienna. At the time, she worked another job while trying to start the new business.
“I’ve considered the whole summer the soft opening,” Stratman said.
In October, Stratman added more hours after leaving her other job. The business had its grand opening, complete with a ribbon-cutting, on Oct. 27 with members of VCOC and some of Stratman’s family and friends.
“A series of traumatic events over a three-year period made me change how I wanted to spend the best 40 hours of my week,” Stratman said about opening the business. “My sister died. My best friend died. My father-in-law died all within three years. It made me think about how I wanted to spend my life every day.”
Seven years ago, Stratman’s husband Eric Williams bought an old school bus.
“Why did he always want to buy a bus?” Stratman said. “It’s just a childhood dream. I don’t know.”
Stratman said the cost of driving a bus is very expensive, so in the time they had owned the bus, they only moved it three times.
“It was kind of a wild night,” Stratman said. “We were just like ‘We should start a business out of (the bus).’ I swear, in the next couple of weeks we had it towed over here.”
The couple owned about an acre of land north of Vienna, so they decided to put the bus there. A building on the property houses Stratman’s pottery studio and Williams’ glassblowing station.
“I knew people wouldn’t stop once a week or even once a month for pottery, so I had to figure out what other passion I could bring in,” Stratman said. “That’s why I chose coffee.”
About a year ago, Stratman bought her espresso machine.
“It took about five months to figure it out, to dial it in,” she said.
Starting a coffee business comes with trial and error. Stratman said the first step is finding the right beans, but after that, there are many variables to determine including the grind size, humidity and proportions for each recipe.
“Curating the menu was very exhilarating and stressful,” she said.
Some of her favorite creations are the Upside-Down Caramel Macchiato, which is one of The Bus Stop’s bestsellers, and the Bonfire from the autumn seasonal menu. The Bonfire includes vanilla, toasted marshmallow and brown sugar with a cinnamon dusting.
Stratman has already started working on the winter menu. She said some seasonal items may become regular items depending on their popularity.
The Bus Stop’s coffee comes from Ozark Mountain Coffee Company, a small Ozark-based roastery. Stratman said she loves the coffee and the owners of the company, who share many of her passions. The Bus Stop sells bags of coffee grounds with custom labeling to show its partnership with Ozark Mountain Coffee Company.
Specials at the shop include a free birthday drink within a week of a customer’s birthday and 10 percent discounts for veterans, first responders in uniform or people who bring their own cups.
“I hate plastic and styrofoam,” Stratman said. “Since I’m a one-time-use kind of shop, I don’t want that in my life.”
The Bus Stop uses certified compostable cups that break down quicker than styrofoam or plastic cups. All the straws are made from either paper or plant-based plastics.
The only other employee of The Bus Stop is Stratman’s niece Shayla.
“I could not have done this without Shayla,” Stratman said. “Shayla is vying for employee of the month. The competition is steep.”
Renovating the bus into the coffee shop it is today took about one year. The process required a lot of custom work. One of the projects was to cut the wheel wells out to install flooring. The steering wheel still remains in the bus. The exterior paint on the bus represents the look of sunset. The top layer is blue like the daytime sky before the descending layers change to yellow, orange and red.
In addition to outdoor seating available on the deck, the inside of the bus has a bar for anyone who wants to enjoy a drink indoors.
Coffee is not the only product at The Bus Stop. Other offerings include keychains, buttons, t-shirts, magnets and puzzles. Stratman said she knows they might not be for everyone.
“I always say they can’t kick us out of town because we’re out of the city limits,” she joked. “I do have some taboo (products). I think life is just way too short and heavy all the time, so if you can’t laugh… the stuff in there makes me laugh.”
Other products include fair trade baskets woven in Ghana and candles made by a veteran and women-owned business in Michigan. A portion of sales of earrings from Rolla-based Pretty ‘Possum Designs benefits families and children affected by abuse and neglect.
Stratman has started planning for future additions to The Bus Stop. Eventually, she would like to sell plants if she can keep them healthy against the “vicious” afternoon sun. The deck is built to fold down and become a stage. In the future, she would like to host acoustic music or poetry readings in the space. Those plans are on hold until there is a bathroom onsite.
“We have lots of things in the fire,” Stratman said. “Just our passion projects. Slowly but surely we’ll build it up.”
The Bus Stop is open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. On Mondays, the business is open from 5:30 a.m. to noon. The shop is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.