New student-run coffee shop looks to provide more than just coffee

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Sophomore Jessie Crosby signs his name
on the Bagos grand opening window-pane.
TYLER MURPHY / THE DEPAUW

A year ago a group of friends got together and met on a Tuesday with their Bibles and cups of coffee. When the small group turned into nearly 50 students, its creator, senior Hope Jordan, knew something needed to be done.

Jordan, along with some other studetns from the small group opened up Bagos on Tuesday. The shop is a space located in the square where their group, as well as anyone else, can spend their free time.

The group initially began as “Coffee and Christ,” where the students talked about the Bible and discussed the passages with each other. 

“Once we got so many attendees, we soon realized we would need more than an apartment building to cram all of the people in,” said senior JJ Holtfreter, the Marketing Director of Bagos. “When we decided we needed a new place, we thought, ‘Let’s make it more than just something for Coffee and Christ. Let’s make it a place for the entire community to enjoy.’”

Bagos had its grand opening on Tuesday from 8 to 10 p.m. at its location on the square, 11 N. Indiana St. Several performers attended, including first-year Tom Mcevily, Ashley Moeller from the Rockology school of music of Greencastle and local artists Jack Gibson and Joe Egger. Jeremy Black provided the sound system.

“Our keynote speakers were Mark and Debbi Christy,” Jordan said. “They are role models in the community who have already invested so much in DePauw students and had a remarkable story to share about their son, Drew.”

A sign drawn in chalk on the main wall of the new space,
an entire wall painted with chalk-board paint.
TYLER MURPHY / THE DEPAUW

There were baked goods, fruits and vegetables provided and coffee, which was served with a suggested $1 donation.

“The grand opening was kind of a whirlwind situation,” Holtfreter said. “We had to scramble coming off of Thanksgiving break and everything, but it came together very well.”

First-year Kendall Brewer was just one of many students who enjoyed Tuesday’s event. 

“I thought the space was incredible,” Brewer said. “The performances were great as well, not to mention the refreshments.”

A Facebook event set up to promote the grand opening suggested that over 100 people would be attending.

“That was very nerve racking in itself,” Holtfreter said.

Sophomore Josh Clark was one of the many attendees.

“It was great seeing how students, who started meeting in each others’ dorm rooms, could open a successful shop to have their meetings,” Clark said.

But before all of the grand opening plans could be arranged and enjoyed by guests, many preparations had to be made.

“We had to become a legal entity, which took about a month with all of the paperwork and other things,” Holtfreter said. “We actually started with a different location but couldn’t open there because of the fact that the building didn’t have a fire escape. So we went ahead on to this new location that was already prepared. It’s safe to say it has been a lot of work getting to this point.” 

Jordan started poking around the idea in August of this year and sat down in early September with the other students directly involved with “Coffee and Christ.”

Guests at Bagos’ grand opening enjoy their coffee and snacks.
TYLER MURPHY / THE DEPAUW

“The process of creating a student executive board and developing our vision and mission statements began in August,” Jordan said. “Since then, we have worked tirelessly to reach out to DePauw students, Greencastle community members, family, friends and alumni for advice and donations. I think I can speak for the group when I say it has been a full time job but an awesome learning experience and well worth the wait.”

The space will be open from 7 to 10 p.m. every night and utilized by Coffee and Christ every Tuesday, but the crew hopes that other organizations will take advantage of what it offers.

“I would say the goal of the space is two fold. One is to be kind of a spiritual gathering place where people can explore their faith, both Christian and not Christian,” Holtfreter said. “But it’s also a place to share with the Greencastle community with a center to share their arts. There are not a lot of places to share their music, hang their art or have open-mics for them to share their poems and such. We hope people will latch on because there is a need in Greencastle that hasn’t been met at this point.”

Bagos is a non-profit organization, so its money comes completely fom donations.

“That’s the challenge,” Holtfreter said. “We have to survive off of the support of the community, even when people come to get coffee that is at a suggested price, we don’t want to have to make them pay.”

The majority of the money comes from local church donations, donors from within the city of Greencastle and out, as well as money from the members of Coffee and Christ.

Many students are concerend about Bagos’ ability to stay open with Starbucks just across the street, but the Bagos board members aren’t too concerned.

Bagos encourages students and community members
to perform during Bagos’ hours, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. every night
TYLER MURPHY / THE DEPAUW

“I think we have differentiated ourselves enough,” Holtfreter said. “Starbucks doesn’t meet the need for being an art center for Greencastle, and we aren’t looking to compete on a profitable level, being a non-profit and all. We solely want to provide for the community and reach out to Greencastle and show them as much love as possible.”

 The team members promise that there will always be coffee and something to eat.

“We don’t have any special blends or anything like that,” Holtfreter said. “Nothing too special at this point since we are limited financially, but the plan is to have coffee, bagels and baked goods available at all times.”

A shelf is being put up where students who frequently visit Bagos can store their own mugs so they’ll always have one handy.

The board is currently looking for volunteers to work nights. They also hope to have student performers book the space to show off. They currently have a few people in the works, but there isn’t a running calendar of events yet.

Holtfreter encourages those interested to keep checking the Facebook page in order to see upcoming events when things start to get rolling.

“I am so excited to watch DePauw students and local artists and performers take ownership of the Bagos space and make it a genuine, peaceful, fun environment,”  Jordan said. “After all the hard work we have put in, it was so encouraging to see how many people came out for the grand opening.”