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One cup at a time: Sheri's is the place to hang out

By JUDITH LINDER-ASHAKIH • Updated May 25, 2017 at 9:29 AM

”A place to hang out with friends” is how Sheri Thomas described the vision she and her husband, Bill, had when the idea of opening a coffee shop came to them. It was May 6, 2004 when their dream materialized as Sheri’s Coffee House opened its doors.

“We would go to Cleveland with people to hang out in coffee shops there.” At last “we decided to do it ourselves.” After lots of choices for a name, ‘Sheri’s” was the one they felt would encourage people to feel they were going to a friend’s house, as in “Let’s go to Sheri’s.”

Sheri emphasized that the atmosphere “needs to be a safe place for people to feel comfortable, escape, vacation from life when they walk through the door. I wanted to make it conducive to relaxation, therapeutic, welcoming, up-lifting. For everyone. We felt we wanted a place where our kids could help out, to teach them a work ethic.”

As for work ethic, Sheri’s mom is there, most often in the kitchen where she helps with the baking. Sheri’s dad is in and out running errands usually, when he can be seen at all. The large apartment upstairs is home for their large family. The kids even help decorate the shop with their original paintings, along with those from some employees, paintings done as “fun projects.”

After researching the coffee market, Bill and Sheri chose Crimson Cup of Columbus as their roaster and supplier. 

“We loved the product and they do a great job, helping us out, even choosing the location. I call it ‘Coffeehouse for Dummies,’” Sheri said laughingly. “They helped with location of the bar counter and placement of the huge coffee maker/steamer, as well as a time-motion study to maximize convenient movement and efficiency behind the bar as we work. It’s ‘the dance’ as you prepare each cup. They taught recipes, though sometimes we make up our own.”

She talked about the conference rooms which are available for community-focused events, where people can meet for showers, business or birthday parties, just a place to play games or where networking groups can meet. 

“The community has been so supportive. We are so blessed by the friendships we have made. And from the beginning of time, all of our tips have gone to different charities and events. I would say 90 percent goes back to our local charities,” she said.

As in one of the ‘Dharma & Greg’ TV episodes, said Sheri, “someone comes into Dharma’s shop looking for a pencil. Dharma says ‘pencil, pencil’ and another someone appears who just happens to have one. At that, Greg realizes that nothing is sold in the shop — it’s just a glorified bus stop.”

Jason, barista and evening manager, has worked at the shop for seven years. 

“There’s a learning curve to it,” he said when asked about handling a huge hot, steaming tank of water. 

“Don’t get burned, learn which areas are hot  or not. Make sure to keep your hands away from the steam, and don’t burn the milk. It’s not a pleasant taste or smell.”

As for the coffee, “you can’t beat it,” he said. The favorite, though, is Sheri’s mocha, because “you can’t go wrong with white chocolate and carmel.”

He enjoys most of all the interactions the atmosphere draws. 

“You can hear about pretty much anything from cross country bikers to celebrating good times in peoples’ lives. It’s where people get refreshed, considering where they might be in life (with hard times or problems). A really good group of kids come in Fridays after school from 3 to 5 p.m. They have been nice and respectful this year. It keeps you on your toes. Bill and Sheri are a wonderful family to work for.”

As far as many are concerned, it’s a perfect place for another cup of coffee.

Judith Linder-Ashakih is a Reflector correspondent.

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