Roger Sims, Journal Staff
Black Elk Coffee Bar opens for business in La Cygne
Entrepreneur Ashton Howard earlier this month opened the Black Elk Coffee Bar in La Cygne. He said community demand fueled his decision to open the business. (Roger Sims/Linn County Journal)
LA CYGNE – Early on Tuesday morning, customers still trying to wake up shuffle into a storefront on Fourth Street in La Cygne. As they leave, though, they carry cups of an elixir that will help them pick up the pace and lean into the rest of their day.
For La Cygne entrepreneur Ashton Howard, those are the moments he has been working toward since he graduated from high school last May. After several months of planning, getting needed licenses, and buying equipment and furniture, Howard opened Black Elk Coffee Bar at 110 S. Fourth Street.
Howard is hardly a stranger to starting new businesses. While a student at Prairie View High School, he opened a shaved ice stand in a nearby shop during the summer months. And even though his main product now is much hotter, he still plans to offer shaved ice again as the weather warms.
The coffee menu is standard fare with Americano and drip coffee for those who need their caffeine jolt with nothing too fancy. Of course there are flavors available to add variety to the drinks, and those include chocolate, caramel, white chocolate, Irish cream, hazelnut, raspberry, and French vanilla.
For those whose tastes run more to steamed milk and whipped cream, Howard can serve up lattes, mochas, and cappuccinos. For those who prefer their morning drinks strong, espresso is on the menu. And for those who prefer an alternative to coffee, tea and hot chocolate are on the menu.
Currently, Black Elk serves gluten-free cinnamon roles during what Howard says is the “soft” opening. A grand opening is in the works, and Howard plans to expand the food offerings to include muffins and other pastries in the future.
While customers can run in for a quick coffee, Black Elk Coffee Bar also has chairs and tables where people can meet with friends or business associates or just read a book.
He said that when Muddy River Outpost in the east side of town closed its doors a few months ago, it was apparent that there was still a demand.
“It was something that was needed,” he said. “It was something that was wanted in the community.”
Why the name Black Elk Coffee Bar?
“I wanted something that would resonate with the high population of hunters in the area,” he said.
Howard said he plans to expand the number of things he offers based on customer surveys.
During his off time, the entrepreneur is keeping busy writing a historical novel with an alternative twist. The author/businessman has already won a contest for a short story he penned and said he likes the creative process.
Black Elk Coffee Bar is open 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday.