New coffee shop opens in North Lawrence; local CEO buys properties along N. Second Street

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

I’ve certainly known school administrators who like to have conversations. (Why were you late to school today? Who pulled that fire alarm? How did Ms. Beatty’s car end up on the roof?) But there is a former school administrator who loves even pleasant conversations, and she has opened a new coffee shop as a result.

Former school administrator Kelli Huslig has opened Uplift Coffee Shop at 624 N. Second St., in the same multi-storefront building that used to house the Iwig Dairy store. It is about a block north of the train overpass in North Lawrence.

“I’ve always enjoyed meeting people in a place where relationships can grow,” said Huslig, who worked at Veritas Christian School before opening the shop. “Coffee, tea and a small bite to eat can bring people together, and I think society is looking for a place to come together.”

Huslig is betting that North Lawrence society is anyway. She said she decided to open the shop in North Lawrence because so many other places in town already have great coffee shops.

“I wanted to locate in an area where there is a need,” she said.

The fact that North Second Street is a popular route to the Kansas Turnpike also was a plus for the site. Huslig figures there will be plenty of early-morning commuters who would stop at a locally owned coffee shop on their way to work.

photo by: Chad Lawhorn/Journal-World photo

Uplift Coffee Shop opened at 624 N. Second St. in late January.

She also thinks the business will stand out from the other offerings along the interstate. She said the interstate has largely become a corridor of fast-food chain offerings. She has designed the shop’s limited menu to have a different feel.

Instead of big biscuit sandwiches or large breakfast burritos, the shop is selling something called “egg poppers,” which are bite-sized egg creations, including one that features feta, cheddar and roasted tomatoes.

“Sometimes finding a healthier option has been difficult at some coffee shops,” she said.

There are some less healthy options on the menu, too. The shop has teamed up with Baldwin City-based Homestead Kitchen & Bakery to stock the shop’s pastry case. The offerings vary by the day, but often will include cookies, muffins, fruit breads, protein balls and other creations.

The lunch menu includes a couple of panini sandwiches — one veggie version and another with chicken and brie. Soups are also available, including a rotation of potato, broccoli and cheese, tomato bisque, and chicken and noodle. A couple of salads, including a Thai version, with or without chicken also are offered.

As for the coffee, the shop is serving the Cuvée brand, which is based in Austin. Huslig said the brand wins many national roasting awards and hadn’t yet found its way to a Lawrence shop. She said some local brands probably will be added, but she chose the Austin company to start because she wanted to bring something new into the market.

All different types of coffee creations are on the menu, including pour over, French press, cold brew, lattes and mochas. The shop also has house-made whipped cream, house-made chocolate and caramel sauces and house-made vanilla, honey-lavender and cane sugar syrups.

“We try to keep things simple but homemade,” she said. “I grew up on a farm in western Kansas, and that’s the approach I grew up with.”

The menu includes about a half-dozen tea offerings from the Rishi brand, including Peppermint Rooibos, Peach Blossom and something called Iron Goddess of Mercy. (Thankfully I never had to explain that to a school administrator.) In case you are wondering, Rishi says it is an artisan oolong tea roasted in an electric brazier, which helps give it aromas of roasted buckwheat and dried apricot.

The shop — which can seat about 20, not including a rear patio that is expected to be completed this spring — doesn’t have a drive-thru. But Huslig said she’s offering what she thinks is a unique solution to those on the go. The shop will have carhop service until noon on most weekdays. People can call ahead for the service, or use a new app that the store is launching soon.

Most days, the carhop will be staffed by a client of Lawrence-based Cottonwood Inc., which ties in with some of Huslig’s past life as a school administrator. In that role, she worked in the special education field, which included work with groups like Cottonwood.


The building at 624 N. Second St. has seen a good amount of renovation in recent months as the property has changed hands. The site is owned by Lawrence resident Harry Herington. Herington is a big-time businessman, but not necessarily in property development. He’s the CEO and chairman of the board of NIC Inc., which is a publicly traded company based in Olathe. It provides a variety of software services to state and federal government agencies.

As we reported in 2012, Herington bought a former auto garage and dealership location at 646 N. Second St. to provide some space for his charity organization, Ride4Cops, which raises money for families of fallen police officers. More recently, though, Herington has purchased the 624 N. Second St. building, and also a pair of old auto shop buildings on both sides of the site.

In total, that is four buildings in a row that Herington owns along North Second Street, but local attorney Patrick Watkins, who is representing Herington, said there are no plans for a major redevelopment. Instead, Herington wants to improve each of the buildings and either use them to attract some locally oriented business or house his charity operations.

“He just wants to make them more usable and approachable for the neighborhood,” Watkins said. “I think he has the right thing in mind for North Lawrence. He is the kind of guy who can bring some of those older properties along.”

Watkins said interest in the smaller spaces has been good. Nails by Stephanie is another new business that has opened in the building that houses the coffee shop. Watkins thinks he’ll have other tenant announcements for the properties in the next couple of months. He said additional renovation also should start on the properties — painting and parking lot improvements — as winter ends.


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