Written By: Matthew Sprosty
Dear Odd Dog Blog Reader,
I don’t know where you hail from or why, but here in Cleveland, Ohio, we keep a few secrets. One being the fact that Cleveland for all its snow and humidity nails two seasons out of the year: Spring and Fall. And, this morning, on a perfectly crisp, fifty degree autumn Saturday, I ventured from the West side to the East side, to Walter Stinson park, and visited the Odd Dog Coffee Pop-Up Stand for the first time.
At the intersection of Northwood and Fenick Road, you will see the Odd Dog Coffee logo, two dogs (Cody, the Odd Dog Jack Russell mascot; Fritz, the Odd Dog French Bulldog Puppy) and the two people behind Odd Dog Coffee, Michael and Mary-Elizabeth (M.E.) On this Saturday morning, as the friendly sun shone through the still-green trees, illuminating the steam from the white cups, with the bands marked with the familiar yellow canine silhouette, M & M.E. handed out the hot cups of freshly brewed Joe with warm greetings.
I sat idly by, sipping on my cup of French Toast, which is only available at the pop-up stand, (along with their “American” flavor- Pumpkin Spice) and listened to new and old customers come up and chat with the proprietors. One man, who everyone addressed as “Mayor” came up to say hello and take a picture. Michael reminded him that he was the man to marry the young java hustlers a couple years prior, to which everyone shared a laugh.
“I thought you looked familiar. Glad to see it’s all working out for you two!” Mayor said, thanking them for the coffee.
“That’s the mayor of University Heights,” Mike whispered to me as he walked away.
“The actual mayor?” I responded, thinking it was just the man’s nickname during the whole conversation. “How cool is that?!”
“Very cool,” Mike said. “This stand is actually a great way to meet the neighborhood.”
And this, Dear Reader, is what endeared me to Mike, his business, and his ambitious idea for a dog friendly coffee shop. As we sat down at a local University Heights place back in the Winter time, he talked to me about wanting to open his own coffee shop and have regulars that would come in, where he would know their order before they said it, and could ask with precision specific things about them, their days, and their lives. He talked of meeting new people, and getting to know who they were, and providing a sense that Odd Dog was going to be their local neighborhood coffee shop that they could enjoy and rely on for a great cup of caffeine.
This hasn’t changed about him.
Saturday morning at Walter Stinson Community Park is filled with people happy its Saturday morning. It’s filled with an array of dogs and little people under the age of five (also referred to as “children.”) As I ordered my second cup for the ride home, a dog got loose in the park, and I (with all my writer might!) secured the collar for the owner to come over and leash her dog.
“It smells delicious over here!” she exclaimed, finding herself in front of the stand, and Cody, Fritz, M.E. and Mike. “I wish I had money.”
Just then, a woman she had been walking dogs with, arrives— “let me buy you a cup!” she chimes in, “I want one, too.”
After they paid and got their cups of French Toast as well, remarking about how wonderful it tasted, and the texture (made creamy with purified Coconut Oil) the receiver of the coffee turned to the buyer and went. “Thank you so much. Next week, let’s meet here again, and I can return the favor and buy you a coffee.”
“That’s a deal.”
And then, the most surprising thing. The lady turned to her coffee buyer and asked, “What is your name?”
Only after a scare of a runaway dog, and the act of buying each other coffee and making a play date for their dogs to walk together again in a week is when they got each other’s names. They walk away. I’m filled with love for the moment, and I approach the Odd Dog Coffee stand workers and say- “How cool was that?”
“Happens every week,” M.E. says, her eyes sparkling with the sun.
“Every week,” she nods. “A stranger buys a stranger a cup of coffee. It’s amazing.”
And, I look over to Mike, as the sides of his smile strain to meet his ears. I have no doubt that one day, Odd Dog Coffee will have its own coffee shop. But, for now, I think Mike realizes he doesn’t need four walls and a roof to be the neighborhood’s place for the best tasting Pumpkin Spice coffee this writer ever had. To visit the Odd Dog Coffee Shop on a Saturday morning is to see a man living his dreams. I highly recommend you experience it, too.