Sunday evening Kristen and I took a walk (as we often do) through our neighborhood and into downtown Benson. We noticed signs around the neighborhood pointing towards a new coffee shop on Railroad Street, so we strolled down to check it out. The store was closed, but looking through the windows it was obviously a place somebody had put a significant amount of work into — lots of soft seating, a new floor, fresh paint, a cavernous lounge space and did I say lots of soft seating?
We were excited to see the new business, Crossroads Coffee, downtown as there really is not a good place to just go grab a cup of coffee and hang out in Benson. In fact, if you’re not in the mood for bar hopping or Italian food, there really isn’t anywhere to go in Benson after 6 p.m. The downtown community seemed to be on the verge of a serious renewal just a year ago. Several new business have opened in recent months and the Main Street area has received some long awaited upgrades, including new benches, improved landscaping, the opening of a new town history museum and full renovations of several neglected building facades. Still, for every step forward the downtown area has made, it seems like Benson has fallen two steps behind. Some key stores have closed and, this winter, a group of business owners successfully halted plans to create a unified historic district downtown.
With that in mind, it’s definitely a pretty cool thing when a nice, snazzy, spacious, comfortable coffee shop opens just three blocks from our home.
On our walk today we noticed the store had an open sign and a couple of cars out front. Kristen and I walked over. Abigail, our 5-month-old Doberman, was with us, so we took turns going in and seeing what Crossroads was really like. As it turns out, Crossroads Coffee is not just a coffee house. It’s actually called Crossroads Church. Pastor Scott Betts organized the church plant several months ago. About 60 regular worshipers have been meeting in the back of the building while the coffee shop was being built. The building, on the corner of Railroad Street and Parish Drive, has a relatively large sanctuary, a game room and a nursery area separate from the coffee shop, which takes up about half of the building. Betts just completed his M.Div. program in 2008, so we talked a little about school and about what he hopes to see happen at Crossroads.
The church is officially non-denominational but has a doctrine grounded in the Baptist tradition. Crossroads has a regular Sunday morning worship service in their building on Railroad Street, men’s and women’s Bible study groups on Monday nights and a midweek gathering at Betts’ home. On the coffee shop side of things, they are open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., although hours may be extended once the shop gets established. Proceeds from the coffee (which comes from Larry’s Beans by the way) goes back to support the mission of the church. Betts said the church has just hired a worship director, although he continues to work as an electrical contractor and does not yet take a salary from the church. This Friday, at 7 p.m., Crossroads Coffee will host its first musical act — a local bluegrass/gospel band. Betts said he plans to make concerts and open mike nights a regular event. Entertainment will be a blend of religious and secular, but always family-friendly.
Regardless of your church persuasion, the coffee shop atmosphere really is top notch. It’s worth supporting ventures like this to help Benson develop into a more vibrant place to live.
I plan on going back. Let’s meet up some time.