Movin' on up: Phoenix Coffee relocates on Coventry

Sarah Wilson-Jones stands in front of the counter at the new Phoenix Coffee Coventry Road location. Photos by James Henke.

Phoenix Coffee, which has been at the south end of Coventry Road near Winking Lizard Tavern since 2007, has a new location—and a whole new look. On Sept. 6, the coffee shop relocated across the street to 1793 Coventry at the corner of Hampshire Road. It is now housed in what was previously Delphic Books and, more recently, C. Jones Books & Tea Shop.

The night before the new shop opened, Phoenix employees gathered at the old shop, which was lit only by candles. Each employee was given a candle to hold, and they exchanged many heartfelt stories about their time at Phoenix. The group then paraded up Coventry Road, carrying their candles, to the new shop. They worked late into the night, readying the store for its Sept. 6 opening.

“The dynamics of the street have started to change,” said Christopher Feran, coffee director for Phoenix. “There is a rebirth of the north end of Coventry. There are more independent stores on that end. We think we will get more foot traffic up there.”

Carl Jones, who owned the book and tea shop, founded Phoenix Coffee back in 1990. Years earlier, in 1976, he started Arabica Coffee, which had its first store on Coventry. Jones’s connection to Phoenix has diminished over the years, and the operation is now run by his former wife, Sarah Wilson-Jones.

Feran said that one of the reasons for the move is that Phoenix was able to “build the store from scratch to our specifications.” The shop’s prior location, at the south end of Coventry, was previously a Caribou Coffee shop, and Phoenix basically moved into the space without making many changes. Phoenix spent the last several months redesigning the new space. “It’s part of a rebranding of Phoenix,” Feran said. “We have a new logo, a different color scheme and a cleaner look. The new shop is a lot more clean, there’s less noise, and it’s more focused. It’s completely different from the old shop. It’s on the street level, so there are no stairs, and it doesn’t have the fireplace in the middle, like the old one.” In an effort to put an emphasis on sustainability, the wall on the south side of the new shop is covered in reclaimed wood. In addition, the new shop features a counter, where customers can sit and enjoy their coffee.

The City of Cleveland Heights helped finance the move, giving Phoenix a $50,000 loan to help cover the construction. “Cleveland Heights has been very good to Phoenix over the years,” Feran said, “and two of our three shops are located in the city.” The other Cleveland Heights Phoenix is at 2287 Lee Road.

The new Phoenix will continue to hold open-mic sessions with local musician Charlie Mosbrook on Monday nights. Mosbrook is also excited by the new location, saying that it is a more open space that will be better for his weekly sessions.

In addition, Phoenix is considering extending its hours at the new shop. “We may stay open until midnight or later,” Feran said. “A lot of the area college students use it as a study space, so we may keep it open even later than midnight during finals weeks and at other times.”            

Phoenix’s old location is still available for rent, as is the former Burgers ‘n’ Beer restaurant, which was located above the old Phoenix and which closed earlier this summer. It’s not known what will replace either business.

James Henke

James Henke, a Cleveland Heights resident, was a writer and editor at Rolling Stone magazine for 15 years. He is also the author of several books, including biographies of Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Bob Marley.

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Volume 6, Issue 10, Posted 4:04 PM, 09.06.2013