Pelham’s newest hot spotPublished 4:11pm Monday, January 6, 2014
By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist
“Welcome to Kai’s!” Kai Smith said, greeting customers entering her Pelham coffee shop.
Smith is a bundle of amiable energy. Fluent in both Spanish and English, she spent five years teaching Spanish at Montgomery’s Jeff Davis High School—in a room that had once been an art room with a large supply closet.
Smith traveled to the Honduras as a bilingual educator. Her up-close-and-personal coffee bean encounters fueled her desire to open a coffee house.
“When school started, my art closet morphed into a coffee closet,” Smith said. “I was brewing up the coffees from my travels. The teachers loved to visit my coffee closet.”
Smith decided that coffee was her next calling and left her teaching job to open a coffee house in Montgomery.
“I couldn’t get backers,” Smith said. “A large coffee chain had leased sites in Montgomery. There was so much excitement about the chain that I was out of luck.”
Montgomery’s loss was Pelham’s gain. Smith’s insurance agent talked her into opening up a branch in Pelham. After running her insurance business for years, Smith stopped by a Pelham coffee house planning to sample the coffee and acquire a new client.
“The signs were already coming down,” Smith said. “The business had failed. ‘You want a coffee shop?’ Frank Gattina, who owns the business next-door asked me.”
“I’d wanted a coffee shop for 10 years!” Smith said.
Kai’s Koffee is a hit in Pelham. Now that Smith has expanded her hours and is closing at 6 most nights, she’s hoping to attract an afterschool clientele. With great coffee, teas, hot chocolate and pastries —including her Kai Cakes, a delicious sweet potato cookie cake — Smith is certainly capturing the attention of the teenage crowd. Free Wi-Fi, a meeting room and ample study areas are sure to draw in student groups. On Jan. 27, Smith is offering 10 percent of the day’s profits to PHS.
Expanding into soups after Jan. 1, Kai’s Koffee will be the perfect Pelham spot for warming up this winter. Visit Kai’s Koffee soon—and experience Pelham’s newest hot spot.