Written by By Karen L. Chandler
West Reading, PA —
Combining a coffee shop with a career in behavioral therapy is part of a life journey for Michele Slaybaugh.
Slaybaugh and her husband, Stan, of Exeter Township, opened Flourish Coffee Shop in the previous location of Caf� Bold in West Reading on April 8.
“We were contacted at the beginning of January by the people who owned the building,” Michele Slaybaugh said. “They knew I had coffee shop experience. It was important that they opened up really quickly.”
As the owner of Exeter’s Expressing Yourself coffee shop from 1999 to 2003, Slaybaugh was inspired by her interactions with her customers.
“People said, ‘you’re such a good listener,’” she said.
The positive experiences encouraged Slaybaugh to go back to school, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Penn State in 2011, her master’s degree in counseling from Eastern University in 2014 and her doctorate in behavioral health, which she completed in December.
The Slaybaughs are leasing the first floor of the building at the intersection of Sixth and Penn avenues.
Although Slaybaugh had been operating her counseling practice, Flourish Behavioral Health, out of her home, she felt the business had grown to the point that she needed an office space.
“This space worked perfectly that I could put my practice in the back,” she said. “We kind of went with it. We spun the name out of what I had for my counseling practice.”
Because the rental was previously occupied by Caf� Bold, Slaybaugh said all the kitchen equipment was already on site that she needed for the new shop.
She explained that the rental needed to be cleaned out and then enhanced for the re-opening with furniture handcrafted by her husband and a complete refresh.
“We made it a bit more classy with black, gold, and ivory,” she said. “It’s simple and classic.”
Indoor seating is available for 26 diners, with room for 14 patrons outside.
The Slaybaughs also included a tech station outfitted for customers to plug in electronics and work from the coffee shop.
Flourish Coffee Shop focuses on espresso-based beverages, a selection of teas, and highlights custom, hand-made sodas. According to Slaybaugh, there are more than 25 coffee flavors available.
Slaybaugh is expanding the food menu which includes an oatmeal bar, breakfast sandwiches, bowls, and fruit and yogurt parfaits, followed by soups, sandwiches, hot paninis and salads.
“Plus we have tons and tons of baked goods,” she said. “We’re finding people love to come and sit.”
And Flourish Coffee Shop is supporting the community with donations to local charities and non-profits, Slaybaugh said.
Although Slaybaugh is focused on her behavioral health clients during the week, she is still excited to blend her two businesses.
“I do enjoy selling behind the counter and serving people Saturdays and Sundays,” she said.
Flourish Coffee Shop
Location: 550 Penn Ave., West Reading
Facebook: Flourish Coffee Shop & Flourish Behavioral Health
Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sundays, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.