Good coffee doesn’t exist solely within the city limits, but when married couple Matt and Julie Koczko moved to Bethel Park six years ago, getting their caffeine fix became a bit of a challenge. Further away from city roasteries like Commonplace or KLVN, the duo started thinking about bringing artisan, on-site roasted coffee to their suburban community.
Connecting with the Bethel Park Historical Society
That dream became reality in early 2019 when the Bethel Park Historical Society was looking for tenants for its recently restored 1905 schoolhouse. As luck would have it, the Koczkos actually volunteered in the refurbishment efforts of the building. The partnership was a no-brainer, and the rest was history.
When the Koczkos came to the schoolhouse, their classroom (now a coffee shop) was stripped down to the studs. The couple wanted to create a welcoming spot for coffee lovers without losing the significance of the historical space.
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Missed this morning light. Have you heard?? You can come inside again. We have been doing Reggie’s on the Lawn for 8 months. 8 months?!? How did time go so slow this year but also so fast. We always knew we would open back inside – we can’t have you outside in the snow?! The time has come as the weather changes. No dine in yet. Takeout only. We will still put out the chairs on the lawn on sunny cool days. We revamped our market area with LOTS of goodies just in time for the holidays. We hope you missed this place. And if you’re new to us, we hope you are excited to see where those drinks have been coming from! Please wear your mask and come see us 🖤
That’s where Julie’s background as an interior designer came in handy. The shop’s simple design is both fun and modern, while still making space for the building’s historical significance. Beyond the playful wallpaper adorned with pups, the standout is the coffee roaster, which sits prominently in the middle of the store.
A Catalyst for Conversation
Roasting right in front of the customer has been a conversation starter. “The point of coffee is to get people to engage with it, enjoy it and socialize,” Julie explains. Guests take an interest in the industrial machine and learn a little more about small-batch roasting as they wait for their beverage.
While customers won’t find the standard Starbucks experience or menu at Reginald’s (though customers attempted to give their Starbucks orders in the early days of opening, jokes Julie), they will find a committed team of baristas excited about making a good cup of coffee. With house-made syrups and a rotating menu of seasonal drinks, there’s something for every caffeine lover on the menu.
“So many people think that you have to compromise when you’re outside the city, but we consider ourselves a city business out in the suburbs,” explains Julie. The team has extensive knowledge around artisanal coffee, but the clientele span from single-bean origin fans to first-time coffee drinkers. A few of their customers have even been old students of the schoolhouse, back for a visit.
Reggie’s on the Lawn: Adapting the Coffee Shop during COVID-19
Translating the team’s love of coffee to South Hills customers has become a bit of a challenge in 2020, like any small business, Julie explains. Just before celebrating its one-year anniversary, Reginald’s had to change tracks completely to adapt to running a business in the time of COVID-19.
Moving quickly, the shop pivoted to coffee bean and pastry delivery in the local area. That ordering system is still up and running, but as the weather warmed, the shop adapted to the times with an entirely outdoor setup. Customers could order at a walk-up window and enjoy coffee on the schoolhouse lawn.
“We called it Reggie’s on the lawn,” Julie explains. Making lemons out of lemonade, they placed plastic Adirondack chairs on the lawn for socially distanced hangouts, and customers even brought their own chairs to place at a distance and catch up with friends over a cup of coffee.
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How to Rock Reggie’s Merch 101. Get a vintage bike, make an edgy face, find a photo worthy backdrop….WE’RE messing with you. Actual instructions: grab it from your closet, put it on, and go do something fun. And if we’re lucky, we will look as cool as @colemccloskey doing it. We re-stocked tees, hats, and pin mix blankets(in the shop and online). Limited quantities! Grab yours before they’re gone! . Photo @antoniotavolettiphotography
“Reggies on the Lawn” was so popular, they even had one of their baristas, a graphic designer, create a T-shirt to commemorate the summer. The shirt includes a dog, a nod to the owner’s pooch Reginald, who Julie says would be in the shop every day with a latte, reading the newspaper, if he were a human.
As the weather cools down, Reginald’s is prepping the shop interior for socially distanced transactions. With plexiglass at checkout and masks worn by everyone in the store, Julie is excited to have customers back in the space, even if it’s for a quick visit.
Partnering with Oram’s Donut Shop
Even in the time of COVID-19, a staple of Reginald’s remains — doughnuts. In partnership with Beaver Falls cult favorite, Oram’s Donut Shop, Reginald’s takes customer pre-orders for Friday and Saturday pickups.
A favorite of the Koczkos, selling Oram’s Donuts at Reginald’s was an initial draw for many customers.“They’d come for the coffee, stay for the donuts,” Julie says.
All photos courtesy of Reginald’s Coffee