renewal coffee shop
Dave Smallhoover of Renwal Coffee Shop. Photo by Nick Peterson.

It all started when his brother Fred took over the coffee roaster Fortunes Gourmet Coffees three years ago in McKees Rocks, says Dave Smallhoover.

Smallhoover, a recent Duquesne University grad at the time, started working at Fortunes where he developed not only a strong passion for coffee but a passion for the Sto-Rox community as well.

He got to know community champions like Cindy Haines, the executive director of the nonprofit Focus on Renewal (FOR) who told him about the long-vacant café space in their Father Ryan Arts Center. The build-out was all there. The space just needed equipment and an entrepreneur’s vision.

On August 31, Smallhoover opened Renewal Coffee Shop in the Father Ryan Arts Center with a mission to help connect the community by supplying a much-needed gathering space.

renewal coffee shop mug
A latte served in a mug from the ceramic studio at the Father Ryan Arts Center. Photo by Nick Peterson.

“I envision a stronger, more connected community working toward common goals,” says Smallhoover. “There is a lot of room to grow here and build into that atmosphere.”

The coffee shop, which uses mugs created by the students in the pottery studio below, will host open mic nights as well as other events with local businesses. Eventually, Smallhoover wants to launch a barista training program for Sto-Rox high school students and employ young adults from the community.

Renewal features free wifi, pastries from Threefifty Bakery & Kitchen on the South Side, Tupelo Honey Teas from Millvale and Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans from, you guessed it, Fortunes Gourmet Coffees.

Maya Haptas

Maya Haptas has an M.A. in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and is a freelance writer covering various topics from architecture and urban design to wellness and skateboarding. She is currently the assistant editor of Bigfoot Skateboarding Magazine.