by Tom Sims
What happens when you take the best locally roasted coffee with a story and weave it into a local ice cream story? You add a dash of Jeff and Amelia Bennett of Ampsersand Ice Cream and a pinch of Bryan and Kimberley Feil of Lanna Coffee and you get a big cup of deliciousness. In other words, you get the grand reopening of The Revue in the Tower by way of Mia Cuppa.
The new venture is neither a merger of Ampersand and Lanna nor an extension of those companies. It is a venture between two couples who want to add value to the Tower community and be a friendly presence on Olive Avenue. It is true that you can purchase Lanna coffee there. It is also true that you can get Ampersand ice cream there. What is particularly special is that you can get them in the same cup which I did Monday during their grand opening. I had some whipped cream on top, too!
I first got acquainted with Bryan Feil some years ago when he was part of a trio who were opening Neighborhood Thrift. I did a story for KRL on the venture. Then, he moved to Lanna Coffee and KRL covered that story as well. Since then, Bryan has taught social entrepreneurship as he practiced it. He has coached entrepreneurs and consulted on a vast array of projects. He believes that socially responsible businesses can add much to communities including jobs, quality of life, dignity, and capital for social causes. However, to “do good,” they must do well.
In other words, they must be profitable. They must observe sound business practices; they must know their products and markets; they must effectively market their wares; they must watch their costs and maximize their profits. You can read more about how Lanna Coffee supports a community in Southeast Asia on their website or in a 2011 Kings River Life article.
Ampersand arrived a couple years into this community oriented entrepreneurial environment and followed a recommendation to do crowd sourcing. Loving ice cream and loving Fresno, Jeff always wanted to have his own restaurant. Fresno gave him that opportunity. As he says on his website, “Fresno is a big city with small town roots.” Jeff and Amelia both recognized that hot Fresno provided a niche for gourmet, “small-batch” ice cream.
In 2015, they launched their Kickstarter campaign and opened their shop in the Fresno High area. Amperstand featured August flavors including standards such as Rocky Road and specialty flavors such as Peanut Butter & Jelly, Nectarine & Orange Blossom Honey, and Whiskey Caramel Swirl. I saw the Whiskey Caramel Swirl as a flavor on the coffee menu at The Revue. See more about this history on YouTube.
The Revue is a return to the old name of the coffee shop that has been operating for several years as Mia Cuppa Café on Olive Avenue. Mark and Wendy DeRaud ran that for several years and created an active arts and cultural venue in the rear portion of the building. That venue continues under their leadership. And yes, Kings River Life covered them as well.
Doors at The Revue opened at 7 a.m. on Monday, August 14, and I stopped by in the early afternoon. The place was buzzing with activity, and there was a line for coffee, shakes, and goodies. There is all new equipment, furnishings, and art deco styled décor as well as a fresh menu including locally roasted coffee, cold brew, and specialty drinks made with Ampersand Ice Cream. Coffee floats, milk shakes, and special deserts accentuate a dual coffee and ice cream theme.
Bryan and Kimberly Feil teaming with Jeff and Amelia Bennett seem to be a perfect fit, and it has been an ongoing discussion between them. They are blending their unique talents, skills, and backgrounds in a common mission and sense of vision that they share.
The Revue is a work in progress. Expect new products and developing blends. The bottom lines for a coffee shop converge upon culture: a culture of high regard for community, high regard for coffee, and keen sense of space. For day one of a new business, everyone seemed happy to be present, appreciative of the flavors, and glad to see each other. I even ran into people I knew. It would seem that the culture is off to a strong start.
On Facebook: www.facebook.com/revuefresno
The Revue Located at:
620 E Olive Ave
Open 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.