There’s a new coffee shop in the Village at Lee Branch on Highway 280 with local roots. More than anything, the folks behind it want to connect with the people who walk in their doors. You can find East 59 across from Baumhowers by the AMC theatre in the shopping center and learn more about its offerings at east59.net. To learn more about what it has to offer, we chatted with owner Amber Tolbert—who grew up in Hoover and graduated from Spain Park High School—as they were preparing to open in August.
The first East 59 took its name from its location in East Lake. Can you tell us the back story on that and how you ended up here in Lee Branch?
My husband and I were living in the East Lake neighborhood, and it was a family dream of ours to open a coffee shop. My parents, a few neighbors and us decided to do so there, and we ended up renovating an old building and opened in 2015. We ran it for several years and then launched the Hoover library location. We ended up not renewing our lease in East Lake, and when we moved our family to this side of town, we looked for a location for where we are now. For us it’s important to be fully present wherever we are.
Can you tell us more about why a coffee shop was and is your dream?
Food is so central to us connecting with each other. Any time we spend time together as a family we are in the kitchen whipping something up and love inviting people into that space. Friends become family when you can invite them into that kind of connection space around coffee and food. You get to know people and make those connections.
What will the interior of the new shop look like?
The inside has a lot of natural light and a lot of breathing space. We ended up using the wood from our old East Lake shop that came from an old house in Lincoln, Alabama and reinstalled it here. It feels very warm, and we hope it’s a place of welcome for anyone. That’s what people said about our East Lake shop, that it really felt welcome and at peace when they were there. That really meant a lot to me.
We will have a private meeting room that can be reserved online. In our East Lake shop, it was used for everything from business meetings to nonprofits to Bible study groups to friends working on a project together, so we doubled the size of it in this new shop. There will also be outdoor seating on a side patio and front patio
What about the coffee itself?
We will serve Counter Culture Coffee; the taste quality is incredible. They also have a commitment to direct trade resourcing; it’s a little different from fair trade, but I think it ends up more fairly paying the farmers. We offer all espresso-based beverages, and we have smoothies and loose leaf tea options. My husband, Stephen, hates coffee, so we wanted a place where a family can all find something they enjoyed.
What’s on your food menu?
We keep it simple with family recipes. The things people talk about most are our homemade pimento cheese and chicken salad, and we’ll serve sandwiches, soups and salads. Our box lunches and catering were popular before. Our basic box lunch comes with a sandwich, chips and a cookie, and you can add fruit or potato salad. We also do a breakfast sandwich tray and sandwich trays, and we offer holiday and party trays with group sharable appetizers like a charcuterie board, buffalo dip, artichoke dip, bacon-wrapped dates and shrimp cocktail.