HOOVER, AL (WBRC) – The smell of fresh coffee now fills the air in Bluff Park, and cars fill the parking lot in front of the new Wild Roast Café. When you walk inside, you instantly realize it is different from most modern coffee shops. There is every kind of seating imaginable, from cozy café tables for two, to a dinning room size table full of puzzles, and couches for lounging. There is even a kids area in the back full of blocks, a train table and a toy kitchen.
“We want everyone to feel like it’s their living room. We want people to feel very comfortable and welcome here,” explained Bart Styes. He and his wife Shannon opened the café together.
“We both love coffee. It’s always been my wife’s dream to have her own business,” explained Bart. The couple lives in Bluff Park and realized that there wasn’t anything like it in the area, and neighbors really wanted it.
“We live here, our kids go to school down the street, and it was just one of those things that we thought what a perfect place, across the street from Tip Top [Grill] and lovers’ leap. What an incredible view, and it’s a community that was underserved with a coffee shop,” explained Bart.
Whether you’re grabbing a quick caffeine fix on the way to work, or grabbing a book and going to relax over a cup of tea, the Styes hope everyone will feel comfortable there.
Then there’s the menu. It’s creative and quirky, full of Alabama flare.
“We take our coffee and our quality very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves very seriously,” explained Bart. “We have a lot of fun with our menu items. My wife Shannon comes up with really creative fun recipes. A lot of them have Alabama roots.”
There is the Hank Sr., which has a bourbon flavor syrup to it, the “Harper latte” for Haper Lee, which is a little like drinking a blackberry cobbler. The crowd pleaser, is the OREO Speedwagon, which is a frozen mocha drink that has people hooked.
“We have a ton of fun. If you are a black coffee drinker, like me, you love house roast. It’s very high quality. But if you want a dessert in a cup, we can do anything on that spectrum and anything in between,” said Bart.
The Styes have teamed up with O’Henry’s Coffee for help roasting their beans and coming up with their own house roast.
“They have been wonderful supporters and coaches along the way,” said Bart.
Wild Roast Café is in the space that once was the music venue Moonlight on the Mountain. The Styes hope to keep that tradition of supporting local artists alive. They have pieces from local artists for sale, as well as unique goods from around the country.
“We wanted Wild Roast Café to be, we call it a caffeinated community of artists and neighbors who are brewing up something good. We want people to come and be inspired, whether they buy art here, or listen to music here, or write the next great American novel here, or they are inspired to open their own business because we had a great conversation with them over a good cup of coffee,” Bart continued.
They are applying for a conditional use permit with the City of Hoover to be able to hold events like concerts with local artists in the evenings.
“We were able to follow our dream here, and we hope that other people are able to launch their dreams because we are in business,” Bart said.
The Styes also hope that families with young children will feel welcome in Wild Roast.
“My wife and I remember how it was like to be new parents, and a lot of the fun places we would go and hang out, all of the sudden when you have a stroller, it feels like those were now off limits to you,” said Bart. “We wanted parents to know that you can still go to a cool place to hang out and be welcome with kids.”
That’s why they set up the children’s play area, and so far it’s been a huge hit. They had a Saturday arts and craft session, and a group of neighborhood moms who met at the café to support and learn from each other.
Wild Roast Café is open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.