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Even with teaching at Metropolitan Community College and training others at the Eagle Athletic Club in Arlington, Kelsea Wolfe wanted more.
Thinking back to her time in college as a barista, she remembers meeting and interacting with the customers she served.
“I loved the people I worked with there, I loved the environment of it all,” Wolfe said. “And so, in addition to teaching and coaching, I also had a dream and a desire to one day have a cafe in order to facilitate this kind of community that I had been a part of.”
In December, Wolfe opened The Nest Coffee Co., at 720 W. Elkhorn St., just off U.S. Highway 30. The little cafe offers both specialty drinks and pastries to its customers.
Wolfe and her husband, Andy, moved to Arlington three years ago. Originally from Waterloo, she said the two were looking to live and raise a family in a small town.
With a background teaching high school English, Wolfe continued teaching at MCC after the move and opened the Eagle Athletic Club at 340 W. Eagle St. in 2019.
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“When we first moved into town, we noticed the little office building next to Highway 30,” she said. “And like so many other people have said since we opened it as a cafe, we always thought it would be the perfect place to have one.”
Wolfe had been asking around town and looking at other places in Arlington about the prospect of opening a cafe.
“One of these ideas or options never really came to anything, so we just sat on the idea, not knowing if it would ever happen or if something would ever come to fruition,” a- she declared.
But about a year ago, Wolfe said she finally crossed paths with the owner of the small building.
“While I was talking to him about other things, I asked if I could put a coffee there, and he said yes,” she said.
At the time, Wolfe had just given birth and was working full-time at MCC and running its gymnasium.
“People always asked me, ‘So when is the café going to open?’ And it hurt my heart because I was like, ‘I don’t know, I’m trying,'” she said. “So it was like a very slow process to get things up and running.”
But last October, Wolfe quit his job at MCC, giving him the time and space to run his cafe.
“When we first entered there it had been flooded when the floods happened,” she said. “And he was just sitting there as far as we could tell, so it wasn’t pretty in there. It was stinky. It was dirty.
After replacing the building’s floor, Wolfe said she needed to update the electrical and plumbing, paint the tin walls and ceiling, and install new cabinetry.
“I don’t know who painted it or when it became part of the building, but the bathroom had an exterior door painted on it,” she said. “It’s a relic of other companies that we left behind, so it’s the only thing that’s left.”
With the building fully renovated, The Nest opened on December 20, 2021, with the name representing Arlington’s tight-knit community.
“Even among our baristas who talk to people who come in and get to know people, I just want it to be a very community-focused, community-driven place,” Wolfe said. “So ‘The Nest’ had that connotation of home and comfort, while being tied to the Arlington Eagles theme.”
The Nest offers coffee beans roasted by Hardy Coffee Co. in Omaha, while the tea leaves come from Artemis Tea and Botanical, also located in Omaha.
“We’re really going for a specialty coffee, an artisan brand rather than something a little more generic or replicable,” Wolfe said. “So we try to choose very carefully who we partner with and what products we offer.”
When creating the drink menu, Wolfe said she wanted to keep it simple and consistent for customers.
“What I’ve found is that people really like our specialty lattes, so the baristas and I have fun creating fun seasonal drinks and specialty drinks because that seems to be what people like. really,” she said. “So while we’re really proud of our black coffee and how great our coffee tastes, we’re having fun creating these better-tasting specialty drinks.”
Additionally, The Nest sells baked goods made by Cheryl Abbot of Back Alley Sugar Shack, another Arlington business.
So far, Wolfe said the Arlington community has supported The Nest, which she said she’s grateful for.
“It was so much fun getting to know more people by opening the doors and bringing people in,” she said. “So as far as I know people love it and are excited, those who have tried it.”
The Nest has also attracted those driving between Fremont and Blair, as well as truckers on the highway.
“So we’ve met people from other communities who seem to like it as well,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe said she is still looking for ways to expand The Nest in the future, including potentially adding outdoor patio space for the summer.
But since opening, Wolfe said she loves meeting new people and giving them something they can love and be excited about.
“I care a lot about the growth, development and revitalization of the community, so being able to actually put my money where I’m talking is something rewarding,” she said.
With The Nest, Wolfe said she just wanted something that could make Arlington a better place to live.
“The business side of things is obviously a necessity, so I’m very grateful for people’s support,” she said. “But it’s really the heart of Arlington and seeing Arlington be a place people love to be that is why we continue to do things here.”