ART ON THE SQUARE – MOTHER ROAD COFFEE
As soon as I arrive in Carthage I start falling in love with her sweet ambiance. Walking through her diverse neighborhoods, around downtown and on the square I find so much to please my aesthetic sensibilities—the turreted courthouse and the copper domed library; the brick and stone churches, large and small; and the beautiful homes, modest and majestic, including Hyde House, home to artCentral on the hill.
Dreaming daily of the Carthage coffee shop amenity that seems to be missing, I’m left with my unrequited yearning.
Apparently others in town share my dreaming and yearning for a special coffee setting. In fact, while I wander Kara and Ed Hardesty, transplants from Tacoma, are actually creating their own dream—a special coffee setting in the heart of our community. My coffee shop dream comes true, the day I find Mother Road Coffee on the square!
Ed’s and Kara’s days in Tacoma were full of cherished friendships and meaningful occupations. Kara worked professionally as a warranty administrator for an automobile company. Ed served twenty-nine years in the fire department. When he retired as a captain, their thoughts of moving to the Midwest became reality. With family in Springfield and Wichita they were well familiar with this area and the attractive cost-of-living. From previous visits they knew and loved Carthage already, and so they came and have been making our town better ever since.
Ed and Kara have never stopped visioning since the spring 2013 opening of their Mother Road Coffee doors in the old Murray-Duncan Drug Store—the three story building known as the town’s first sky scraper. Now they’re on the brink of bringing to life their boldest Carthage vision yet. They’re expanding MRC into the building next door (most recently occupied by Farmers Insurance) and adding the Village Square Boutique which is still in the conceptual stage.
Sitting at MRC with Kara and a perfectly made extra dry cappuccino, I ask her about the catalyst for their plans. “We’re growing.” Kara responds. “We want to add more seating space to continue to serve our customers in a comfortable setting during busy times.”
To visit MRC today is to step back into a vintage vibe where you’ll enjoy the best cup of hand-crafted coffee the present can offer. The atmosphere is welcoming and friendly. You don’t have to know coffee jargon to enjoy something new and satisfying.
Ed and Kara have created the warm and cozy feel of an old home library. The softly lit mocha-hued interior includes the original tiny octagonal floor tiles (found under red shag carpet!) and walls decorated with historical photos and coffee-centric sayings. Near the entrance is a gigantic world map strewn with map tacks placed by Route 66 travelers from ninety-eight countries around the world. Their comments in the guest book are spot-on. “Best coffee since Sydney! Best cup of coffee in the states. Splendid people! What a find! Superb. Awesome! Great coffee, even greater staff!”
Besides creating their state-of-the-art coffee shop and contributing their time and resources to many philanthropic endeavors, through Mother Road Coffee Ed and Kara are avid supporters of our arts community.
Their seasonally changing window decorations are always inspiringly artful. At downtown Art Walks they feature guest artists and stay open late to accommodate the after-hours art walkers. They lend their support to artCentral with an ongoing mini window display at sidewalk’s edge. For purchase on MRC’s shelves they offer gift items created by local artists as well as artCentral’s fundraising vintage cook book and thoughtfully selected books by local authors. They display intimate, rotating art exhibitions.
When I became director/curator of artCentral I inherited the delightful privilege of curating and installing art on MRC’s gallery walls. Recent exhibits have featured the art of my husband, David Greenwood-Mathé, preceded by an installation of selected works from artCentral’s annual Membership Exhibition. Personally and on behalf of my board of directors I thank Ed and Kara for this exhibition opportunity. While I pack up my hammer and nails to accommodate the MRC expansion, Cherry’s Art Emporium has already placed beautiful winter themed works by our beloved Carthage artists Jerry Ellis and Andy Thomas.
As Kara and I conclude our time over coffee, Kara muses, “The very best part of Mother Road Coffee is the people we meet. Not just internationals but hometown people we’d never meet or know without the coffee shop.”
Thanks to Mother Road coffee’s satisfaction of my coffee shop yearning, I’ve come to appreciate Ed and Kara as two visionary shop keepers who always aspire to excellence in all they do. I know that, no matter how big they grow Mother Road Coffee, in their artful coffee shop I’ll always be able to find the very best little cappuccino anywhere between NYC and Seattle!