At 7 am on Sat., Oct. 10, a car jumped the curb and crashed into Six Shooter Coffee on Waterloo Road near East 156th Street. Fortunately, no one was hurt, though the building sustained some serious damage.
The driver claims to have fallen asleep, yet shop owner Peter Brown said he found an empty bottle of tequila in his back seat. The police arrived 20 minutes later, which was enough time for the guy to gather his things and flee on foot.
From here, the story gets weirder. Turns out it was the second car crash at the business in less than a year — at two different locations.
“One thing we can all agree upon in this wild and wacky year of 2020 is that if you couldn’t make something up, it will 100% definitely actually happen,” Six Shooter posted Saturday morning on Facebook. “Like, for instance, someone crashing their car into our shop for a second time in less than a year AFTER WE MOVED TO A NEW AND COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LOCATION.”
Nonetheless, with a seemingly indomitable spirit, neighborhood residents, nearby merchants and the building owners pitched in to build a temporary wall right away, and the business was back open the next day. “We put up some two by fours, built a false wall around the area that was hit and hung some visqueen, but it’s going to need a decent amount of work to fix it,” said Brown.
Brown said Clevelanders can help Six Shooter recover from its second wreck in less than a year by buying a cup of coffee or some baked goods. “The biscuit sandwiches and coffee are worth the trip,” he said.
Six Shooter moved to its new location in February to be closer to the heart of the Waterloo Arts District and benefit from proximity to the Beachland Ballroom, Millard Fillmore, Citizen Pie and other local businesses. “We were so fortunate to have the problem of outgrowing our space,” said Brown. “It doubled our square footage but also had a more open floor plan. We could also exhibit the brand we’d become — our funky wallpaper, cactuses and plants are a little bit more on-brand for us.”
In addition to doing all of their own coffee roasting and sourcing beans sustainably, Six Shooter Coffee sells baked goods from Cleveland Bagel and Cleveland Biscuit Head. The latter’s breakfast sandwiches have proved popular. They’ve also started a cold brew program in which they have six rotating cold brew taps they switch out regularly.
Brown said business is doing well, even in the midst of the pandemic. “We switched to online ordering as soon as we could and utilized curbside pickup,” he said. “Coffee in and of itself tends to be grab and go.”
A former substitute teacher who found his calling and opened Six Shooter five years ago, Brown loves what he does. “We try to keep things fresh and not take it super seriously, because after all it’s just a cup of coffee,” he said.
Despite challenges, Brown is not discouraged and says he chose North Collinwood for its proximity to the lake and the people who live and work here. “It’s got what it takes, but it’s gonna take patience,” he says of the area.
In response to speeding and safety incidents, Waterloo merchants have been advocating for traffic calming measures on Waterloo Road. “It is unacceptable that it took so long for the police to respond to this morning’s incident, but I also believe we can’t rely on police traffic tickets alone to stop future accidents from happening,” wrote Amy Callahan, director of Waterloo Arts, in an email to Ward 8 Councilman Mike Polensek, police and stakeholders. “We must do something to calm the traffic by making the district less convenient for cars to race through. We need the cars to feel unsafe speeding, not the people.”
In an email reply, Ward 8 Councilman Polensek disagreed. “You can do all the traffic calming you want on Waterloo,” he wrote. “If a driver doesn’t respect the traffic code and/or is drunk, good luck. Drivers who break the law need to get hammered, end of story.” He added he’s checking with 5th district Cleveland police commander Sammy Morris about the response time.
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