Traditionally, coffee houses are known for being a mecca within the communities they serve, and a local St. Peters coffee house is no exception.
"We're almost like a quasi-community center," said Jack Heckenkamp, owner of Saint Charles Coffee House.
Heckenkamp runs the family-owned business together with his wife, Julie and their daughter, Melissa Schiller.
The coffeehouse gets their coffee beans from local micro roaster, Chauvin Coffee based in St. Louis, which uses an old European-style gas roaster, guaranteeing a full-flavored brew.
Saint Charles Coffee House offers a variety of coffee and teas, and also serves a selection of food, such as soups, salads, sandwiches and even pizza. The business also has private banquet rooms available to accomodate birthday parties, showers, wedding rehearsals and corporate meetings.
“We’re sort of a rarity, we’re a different market than Starbucks," Heckenkamp said. "People that have never been to a good coffee house should go to Starbucks, then go to a mom and pop place, to see the difference."
The atmosphere of the coffee house is comfortable and inviting, when a new customer walks in and takes in the sights, sounds and smells, there is no mistaking they’ve entered a coffee house. In fact, two large brown leather couches invite patrons to sit down with a cup of joe and stay for a while.
“We’re fighting the franchise look, where everything is the same, we’re unique,” Heckenkamp said of the decor.
Heckenkamp said when the trio was deciding what the atmosphere of their business would be like, they chose to bring a little bit of the Central West End ambience to St. Peters.
Inside the large two-story building, there is certainly no shortage of places for patrons to gather and talk, study or just relax. Heckenkamp said the coffee house hosts a variety of groups including, book clubs, church groups and business meetings, to name a few.
"We encourage people to sit and discuss and also meet here with other people,” Heckenkamp said.
Every Tuesday and Thursday, Saint Charles Coffee House hosts “open mic night,” featuring veteran and new musicians alike, live poetry readings and stand-up comedians. Friday and Saturday nights they have live music. Heckenkamp said the live music genres range from jazz and classical piano to country and Christian music.
With the coffee house hosting so many events and entertainers, operating a fast-paced business is sure to be a bit overwhelming at times. Heckenkamp admitted running your own business can be harder than punching a time clock 40 hours a week, but at the end of the day, for him, it all comes down to being a labor of love.
“I always tell people this is the hardest job that I’ve ever loved doing, at the end of the day it’s rewarding to see that you’ve created something,” said Heckenkamp.
Saint Charles Coffee House is located at 3821 McClay Road. For more information about Saint Charles Coffee House, call 636-922-1566 or visit their website.