How does a woman go from being a full-time educator to the owner of one of Omaha’s premier chocolate boutiques? Moreover, how does that same woman then spurn other women to join forces to open up a coffeehouse together, featuring several independent businesses running happily underneath one roof?
Essentially, it all boils down to passion, and Melissa Stephens has an abundance of passion for what she does.
Let’s start with the back story. Years ago, Melissa was a full-time educator who just so happened to have a knack for making cordial cherries. While she toyed with the idea of opening a cordial cherry shop –and was certainly encouraged to do so by the people who enjoyed her cordial cherry creations- she had the same apprehension that many folks have when thinking about starting their own business. What if nobody came to her shop? What if the business failed?
It took her a while to finally take the leap of faith and open The Cordial Cherry, and when she did finally open, it was only for very limited hours. “I didn’t know if people would come during the hours I was open,” she says, “but they did.”
For a while she managed to keep her day job while also running The Cordial Cherry, but another leap of faith resulted in leaving her job as an educator and concentrating on her business full-time. Nowadays, The Cordial Cherry is known as one of the best artisan chocolate shops in the Omaha area.
Running The Cordial Cherry allowed Melissa to meet a wide variety of people, including women who had similar stories; they started small, selling their creations and struggled with the idea of taking a chance to open their own business. “I’d hear it a lot from other women,” says Melissa. “They loved what they were doing, but they were afraid to start a business because they were afraid they would fail.” While Melissa would encourage these women, she also found herself wondering if there was a way that she could help them even more.
This is where Stories Coffeehouse came from. It’s a coffee shop, but it’s also a place where women entrepreneurs joined forces to open a business together. So you can nibble on some pastries from L Pastries while you enjoy some food from Homemade by Amber, then grab some brownies from Alotta Brownies Bakery to go with your latte as you head out the door. Get some popcorn from Noni’s Popcorn while you’re at it.
It’s a great story of women coming together and pulling something off that most people would think a pipe dream. So far so good, as Stories Coffeehouse is quickly proving to be a popular spot.
When I visited Stories Coffeehouse I was immediately taken aback by the décor. It’s quite unexpected for a coffeehouse, but in a delightful way. Doors that lead to nowhere and repurposed furniture add to the “hey, come in and hang out and have an intellectual discussion” vibe.
Now let’s talk about the food. I have a hard time remembering much of the details of my visit because my brain was derailed by the cookies & cream cheesecake I sampled. Yes, my brain had some sort of joyous, frantic conference with my taste buds when I tasted this cheesecake because the cheesecake was mind-bogglingly good. I did have some other food though too, and everything was quite good.
Specifically, the Chicken Bruschetta Panini had a vibrant, fresh taste. The macaroni and cheese was gooey and delicious with a smoky undertone. The chocolate mint milk was tasty and was served in an old-fashioned milk jug with a paper straw.
I know all this because I took notes while I was sampling the food, and if I hadn’t taken notes I would probably only write “cheesecake, cheesecake, cheesecake,” because that’s what my brain has been telling me lately because I have yet to go back to Stories Coffeehouse to eat more of the ridiculously good cheesecake. My brain is not happy about this.
I suppose I should also mention that the coffee is good – after all, this is a coffeehouse. I enjoyed the mocha I tried, particularly since it had a distinct coffee taste and wasn’t too desserty. Next time I will try the Cordialatte because I just so happen to know that the woman who came up with this particular drink is fabulous, and therefore the Cordialatte must be fabulous too.
1129 South 180th Street
Monday-Saturday 7:00AM – 10:00PM
1223 South 180th Street
Tuesday-Friday: 12:00PM – 6:00PM
Saturday: 12:00PM – 4:00PM