Even though it is a stormy Monday morning, the Slow Train Cafe is bustling. With a lengthy line to order coffee and all but one small corner table occupied, the café is approaching maximum capacity.
This increasing demand for space has driven the managers of Slow Train to open a new café underneath Swerve Bike Shop on Main Street. Scheduled to open early next week under the same management, The Local will cater to those seriously interested in coffee as a drink and not just as a social space.
“Somebody was going to be smart enough to open up another shop,” said Blake New, co-manager of the Slow Train Cafe. “So we figured, why [shouldn’t it] be us?”
According to co-manager Zach Tesler, OC ’06, the key difference between the two locations is that while Slow Train has found success as a community-based, old-style coffee house, The Local will be a smaller space dedicated more exclusively to the craft of coffee. It will brew coffee from an array of vendors not offered at Slow Train, serve a wider variety of high-end coffee and espresso drinks and generally be more “coffee-centric.”
“The people who really know us will know that [the coffee shops are under] the same [management], but to an outsider [it] will appear that they are independent,” said Blake New.
The Local will not host performances or serve alcohol but will occasionally be used as a training space. According to co-manager Jessa New, OC ’01, the space will be used for coffee education and barista classes.
Tesler described the basement as “a really cool space with a great atmosphere.” Although it is one of the oldest buildings in the town of Oberlin, the managers elected to leave walls of the original stone foundation exposed and build around it in order to give it a “nice, comfortable, warm feel.”
Aside from the hassle of getting permits and inspections, Blake New reported that the process of opening The Local has been relatively smooth so far. Unlike when they opened Slow Train, the managers now have more experience with the building process and have been able to afford professionals to help with planning.
Despite the popularity of Slow Train, the opening of The Local remains relatively unknown to the public. Out of eight polled customers, including four students, only one self-proclaimed Slow Train regular knew the details of The Local’s development. Two others had reportedly heard that something was going to be opening up, but were unclear on the nature and location of the business.
“The hope is that [The Local] serves a purpose beyond that of Slow Train,” said Jessa New. “The goal is to be able to serve more of the community.”