Hugging people through a cup of coffee
By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer
PELHAM – Pelham’s favorite coffee shop, Buck Creek Coffee, premiered their new location on Aug. 17. The new location (four doors down from their previous location on Pelham Parkway) now has a drive-thru where guests can grab their cup of joe, and quickly be on their way.
Buck Creek’s owner, Karen DeVito, and her husband Torre DeVito continue to monitor every aspect of the business to make sure everyone is happy and everything goes smoothly.
Though the location is smaller than their previous space (over 200 square feet shorter), the charisma of the coffee shop fills every corner: book shelves filled with classic novels, local art, T-shirts designed by Torre. Coffee grinders have been placed in the back to give the front-of-the-house a quieter atmosphere.
Adding a drive-thru was the result of the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Karen and Torre thought with everything so up in the air, they should adapt.
“With the uncertainty of COVID, we didn’t have a clue as far as what was going to happen,” Karen said.
“People got used to not going into a place,” said Torre, “So, we thought a drive-thru would be a good idea to kind of keep traffic flowing.”
The people of Pelham have become very attached to Buck Creek Coffee ever since they opened their doors two years ago. Guests can continue to expect the same quality coffee, tasty treats and service, while receiving some new surprises as well.
“There will be some menu changes,” said Karen. “We are adding some pastries from a local vendor, but right now we’re waiting to get a different display case – a refrigerated display case.”
They teased they will probably be adding cannoli and possibly cheesecake to their menu.
There are familiar aesthetics to the new location, like a chalkboard with fun illustrations and quirky signs on the walls, but there are now new aspects such as a spray-painted locker (for staff belongings) and a selfie wall to reflect the diverse community. Karen credits Torre with all of the decorating and organization.
“Our other place, we had kind of a shabby chic vibe,” Torre said. “This place we want to try and capture that same feeling, but it’s a little more chic this time around.”
Karen said they’re seeing a slow uptick in traffic, mainly due to the fact they were just recently able to put their sign up. They hope to increase their hours if business continues to grow; until then, they’re keeping with their usual hours. They are, however, looking to expand the Buck Creek work-family.
“We still need employees. We’re looking for people who can work in the afternoon from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m., or mid-shift 9:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.,” Karen said. “Maybe mothers with kids in middle school. The moms can work while the kids are in school or in sports…the inside traffic is not going to die down, but we need someone to help with the back of the house, making sandwiches, dealing with Doordash, being a runner basically.”
Through everything, Buck Creek’s customers have always been an integral part of what makes Buck Creek so special. “We love our customers,” Torre said. “I think one of the hardest things for Karen is she’s a hugger, and that is really frustrating during COVID. That’s just one way we can hug the community is through a cup of coffee.”
Even though the drive-thru is meant to provide people with a more succinct way to get their coffee fix, Karen said Buck Creek will always strive to be a community-driven coffee shop.
“People ask us, ‘Why did you name it Buck Creek Coffee?’ Well, Buck Creek goes through Alabaster, Pelham and Helena,” she said. “So, because it goes through all three communities, we were trying to bring all three communities together.”
“We also shop local to those three communities and partner with people in those three communities,” Torre added.
“I had a couple come in that had just moved here from Texas, and I told them, ‘Whatever you need, don’t just go hunting it down.’ Come in here and talk to us because all of these real estate agents, painters, things of that nature come and leave their business cards for our community board,” Karen said.
They frequently host various Bible studies throughout the week, and almost always have three or four tables of people looking for a comfortable place to conduct business meetings. Everyone is welcome and no one is a stranger.
Karen said even during the pandemic, they wanted the community to know their doors are always open to anyone and everyone looking for a good cup of coffee. “When I ran the store during COVID,” she said, “I did curbside, but I left the doors open and people could come in, grab their drink, and leave.”
Karen and Torre insist that as long as the community needs coffee, their doors will always be open.
Buck Creek Coffee’s new location is 2947 Pelham Parkway. Their operating hours are: Monday – Friday 6:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.; and Sunday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.