Strand Coffeehouse to open in downtown Montevallo

Published 3:33 pm Friday, December 10, 2021

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By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer 

MONTEVALLO – A movie theater, an apothecary and an art studio are several of the businesses a 700-square-foot space on Montevallo’s Main Street has housed over the years, and soon, it will reopen as a coffee shop.

Montevallo resident Sean Eichelberger is turning the old Strand movie theater into Strand Coffeehouse, a business as new to the city as Eichelberger is to the world of entrepreneurship.

“It’s exciting and scary, but the wildest part is I don’t think I’ve ever done anything where people outside of my friends have been so interested and excited,” he said. “It’s been overwhelming in the best way.”

Eichelberger, 38, is no stranger to the coffee scene. He worked for Books-A-Million for 15 years, 12 of which he spent doing repair and maintenance work on coffee and refrigeration equipment for the book chain’s in-store café, Joe Muggs Coffee.

For five years, he served as operations manager and assistant buyer for the chain, which then consisted of nearly 250 stores and 135 cafés.

“It was always one of my dreams to own my own space,” Eichelberger said.

But he wanted to pursue the dream when he felt the timing was right.

Eichelberger and his fiancée, UM Professor Dr. Meredith Tetloff, moved to Montevallo last August.

He was working for a national repair and maintenance company when he learned the Strand space had become available for rent and decided to look at it.

“I immediately saw what it could be,” he said. “I was not ready to do it, but when are you ever going to be? I spent a couple weeks agonizing over whether I could do it.”

With encouragement from Tetloff, Eichelberger seized what he saw as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and moved forward with his coffee shop dream this spring.

The space needed a significant amount of renovations, the biggest of which were plumbing and electrical updates.

Eichelberger and his friends have handled the more minor renovations, including painting, wall papering, flooring and other interior details he described as “a lot of individual decisions that tied in really well together and made it that homey space we were going for.”

“It’s a small space, but we’re making good use of it,” Eichelberger said, noting the shop will have a 25-person occupancy throughout several rooms. “There still will be plenty of cozy space for people to hang out.”

Throughout the renovation process, Eichelberger has tried to preserve the historical essence of the building, from the old ticket window in the front to the brick wall bearing an old Bull Durham tobacco advertisement in the back.

And, not surprisingly, Eichelberger has spent a considerable amount of time planning his menu, which will feature a rotating roasters program of coffees from around the world.

“There’s always going to be something new that people can come and try,” he said.

Eichelberger plans to start with Mad Priest Coffee out of Chattanooga and Black Oak Roasters out of California.

In addition to the basic offerings – lattes, cappuccinos, iced coffees and the like – Strand Coffeehouse will serve Japanese iced coffee, which Eichelberger described as double-strength coffee brewed directly over ice to immediately chill it.

This flavorful offering will be named “Echizen” in honor of Montevallo’s sister city in Japan.

Eichelberger said he wants to accommodate not only those who want to sit and relax for a while in the café, but also people on the go who want to pick up a quick cup of coffee on their way to work.

Customers will also be able to order bagels, muffins and other grab-and-go breakfast and snack items.

Eichelberger said he is aiming to open Strand Coffeehouse in the next month or two.

Until then, he is focused on finishing the details and creating a place where everyone in the community feels welcome.

“I want everyone to feel like they belong here,” Eichelberger said. “I want people to have spaces and parts of it where they could feel like this is their spot.”