Updated: Mar 25, 2022
TEMPE, Ariz. (Mar. 23, 2022) – It’s a chilly Tuesday afternoon in March, and 77-year old Mesa resident Wynne Sanfelice, walks in the door to Brick Road Coffee with her daughter and her non-binary grandson. When they heard of a new LGBTQA+ friendly space in Tempe, they set out earlier in the day to fit a visit in between appointments. Cautiously optimistic, they make their way to the counter to tell the staff they are really impressed with the look and feel of the place–it feels like a home. And for a grandmother who worries about her children in an ever-increasingly dangerous world, it’s not often she can breathe a sigh of relief. Everything is going to be okay.
Opening a local coffee shop is no easy feat at any time but opening a coffee shop at the tail end of 2021 as the world is barely recovering from a global pandemic is even tougher. Nevertheless, they persisted. And boy, was it worth it! In just six months co-owners (and husbands), Gabe Hagen and Jesse Shank have quickly turned Brick Road Coffee into THE neighborhood gathering place.
“To be recognized as the Friendliest Neighborhood Business by members of the community we serve is proof that what we set out to do is coming to fruition. We are creating and cultivating a sense of community and providing a safe space to everyone that walks in our doors.” – Co-founder, Gabe Hagen
In the classic book The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy sets out on a journey of self-discovery only to realize that all one really needs to find themself is self-realization and acceptance. So, Gabe and Jesse clicked their heels three times, and have taken this philosophy and made it their mission to accept everyone as they are, no matter where they are on their personal journey. Creating a culture of community where friends and neighbors, new and old alike can come together is just as important as creating the perfect latte. Being members of the LGBTQ+ community, both Hagen and Shank know the struggle to fit in and feel accepted as they are, motivating them even more to provide a space for people that don’t feel like they fit anywhere else.
"People from throughout Tempe have nominated their favorite neighbors, nonprofits, and businesses for a variety of awards. We are excited to announce this year’s neighborhood-friendly Business award recipient, Brick Road Coffee." - Tempe Neighborhood Services Office and Tempe Neighborhood Advisory Commission
Located in the heart of Tempe, on Rural Road and the U.S. 60, it’s safe to say Brick Road Coffee has become the heart and soul of the community they serve. Community is the foundation they are built on and since opening in October of 2021 they’ve proven that several ways. They curated Coffee with the Candidates events where customers and neighbors can speak with local representatives and become more informed and empowered to use their voice to vote. For the holiday season, they hosted a Queermas tree from local LGBTQ+ non-profit one-n-ten Phoenix to provide gifts to homeless or struggling LGBTQ+ youth and raised over $500 for Aunt Rita’s Organization for their annual Aids Walk event to spread awareness on HIV and Aids prevention. At their grand opening event hosted by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce in January 2022, they received the support of Representative Greg Stanton and several city council members and candidates as well major non-profit directors and board members and raised over $1200 for one-n-ten Phoenix.
“I want to congratulate Gabe and Jesse. Brick Road Coffee’s resounding success goes to show that creating a welcoming, inclusive environment is not only the right thing to do—it's also good for business.”- Representative Greg Stanton
“At Brick Road Coffee, you will find a community that makes you feel seen and builds you up. Every time I’m there, it feels like home. In a world where genuine community is hard to find, you will find a place here that celebrates your authenticity and embraces you as you are.” - Jen Eckles (They/Them) - Loyal Customer
“I am so impressed with you guys and what you have created here.” - Wynne Sanfelice - Loyal Customer
Starting a small business is no easy feat but equipped with business finance experience and a passion to make a difference, Gabe and Jesse clearly succeeded in doing what they set out to do. Brick Road Coffee is a safe and sober space that openly welcomes the LGBTQ+ and sober/recovery communities. The support they receive from the community is given right back by investing in partnerships with other small business owners and community members. One look at their social media and you’ll see they have quite the following of avid supporters. Thanks For Being a Friend Fridays spotlights their loyal customers, vendors, and partners that have helped them become a staple in the community so quickly. For this and many of the reasons listed above Brick Road Coffee truly embodies the requirements to be known as the Friendliest Neighborhood Business and is, therefore, SO deserving of this award.
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*Award presented by Tempe Neighborhood Services on Saturday, March 26, 2022.