In two months, Beau and Ashley Bekemeier will open a coffee shop in the same St. Clair building where they got married 13 years ago.
The couple owns BB Coffee Lab, which will open in the former Roots Church, 335 N. Commercial Ave., in July.
Beau Bekemeier said the 3,000-square-foot coffee shop, with an expected capacity of 100 people, will feature two lounges, a conference room that can be reserved, office space and a drive-thru window, with the idea that it will be “a place that people can congregate.”
“We feel that the style of our coffee shop is going to draw in some younger people,” he said. “I believe that maybe they are (looking for a) community and to be able to feel like it’s a place for them as well. So that’s our focus, that younger and older people all at the same time would really enjoy our space.”
The building has long been a place to congregate.
A native of St. Clair, Ashley Bekemeier “grew up” in the building because her father was a pastor at the church for 35 years, according to her husband, who worked full time in the pastoral church industry for 20 years before the family moved from St. Louis to St. Clair two years ago.
The church was known as Victory Church until it became Roots Church six years ago. Roots Church expanded into a new location, 235 N. Service Road W, about a year ago.
Plans call for Anytime Fitness to join BB Coffee Lab in the former Roots Church location. Franchise Owner Edwin Van Weelden was on vacation and unable to be reached. Beau Bekemeier said the two are friends, and the space will be elevated with the combination of a coffee shop and a gym.
“Once we really realized this is a viable thing, with having the gym in partnership with us, we were excited to jump on it because, honestly, we really didn’t want to see it turn into just more parking spaces or a vacant building for a long period of time,” Beau Bekemeier said.
He said the couple launched Bekemeier Property Management LLC to do the construction work and with the goal of building more coffee shops around Franklin County.
They bought the building, and Anytime Fitness is leasing it from them. The Bekemeiers are working with local companies Williams Electrical Services, Woody’s Heating & Air Conditioning and Homes Systems Inc. for electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrades and installation.
They are financing the project with savings and a loan from Bank of Sullivan. Beau Bekemeier declined to disclose how much the project costs.
“The building itself has a lot of meaning to us and especially my wife,” he said.