Kool Beanz Cafe’ reached a milestone on April 15.
The restaurant in downtown Granite City celebrated its one-year anniversary. To mark the occasion, owner Vicky Arguelles took a cake out of the pie rack. The cake, covered with chocolate frosting with orange flowers, proclaimed ‘Happy 1-year Kool Beanz.’
“I’m so excited to be here for our first year,” Arguelles said. “I’m excited for our community that they rallied around us and they continued to help us grow and learn about what they need and they want and they expect from the revitalization downtown. It’s very exciting.”
Now, Arguelles is having big plans for the future of Kool Beanz, 1316 Niedringhaus Ave.
“It’s bright,” Arguelles said. “With God’s help and guidance, we’re going to continue on the road to getting involved in our community, which is what I’ve been doing for the last year, and listening to them and listening to what they want and continue to provide great products and wonderful services and loving people.”
Kool Beanz offers several choices of coffee, lattes and cappuccinos in addition to muffins, bagels, cookies and doughnuts and has a menu that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu includes the chicken pesto and mozzarella grilled cheese sandwich, the spinach and egg white breakfast sandwich and made-from-scratch soup.
“We opened as a coffeehouse,” Arguelles said. “Our focus was coffee, but I knew I needed to have some food because we’re a small business in a depressed area. So I knew we needed to have a balance of things to offer people.”
Kool Beanz is also a place where people can surf on the Internet, read a book on the couch or play games.
“The one thing about a coffeehouse is you can be whoever,” Arguelles said. “You can have all kinds of creativity in the way you set your menu and the way you do your activities. We had a Connect Four Tournament one night and we had 26 people come. We had a kids’ bracket and an adult bracket. It was so much fun.”
Kool Beanz also offers live and local entertainment. Every Thursday night, Kool Beanz has an open mic night, where people from the Metro East sing and play music.
“That’s absolutely amazing,” Arguelles said. “It’s one of the ways that we wanted to grow our business and to get the community to come in. So we began this open mic on Thursday nights. It’s really funny because at first, it was like one person who would come in and sing and then it would be my husband and I and whoever was working that night. Then within a couple of weeks, there was a buzz generating. Within the couple of weeks, it was an absolute packed house. We served dinner that evening, so a lot of people come in for dinner and a lot of people come in just for the show. Last week, we had eight performers come in and every one of them was exceptional.”
Kool Beanz opens every day at 7 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 9 p.m. on Thursday and 10 p.m. on Saturday. The restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Kool Beanz started business on April 15, 2014, with three workers, including Arguelles.
“It was exciting and it was scary. We opened the door and we quietly whispered we were open,” Arguelles said. “We had a lot of supporters come in and help us get going and help us break through those first days. When people just began to suddenly come, it was amazing. Every time the door would open, I was in awe of the fact that we were ringing up sales and we’re providing good products and we were meeting new people. We invited every customer that has come into the door to be a part of our business by giving us feedback.”
Now, the restaurant has six employees. They are Miguel Moreno, Natalie Pacheco, Jessica Hickman, Nolan Rogers, Margo Karpiak and Marcos Gomez. Moreno is Arguelles’ nephew, Pacheco and Hickman are graduates from culinary school and Karpiak moved to Granite City from Utah a few months ago.
The staff also includes Arguelles’ husband, Eduardo, and son, Gabe Jarman. Jarman is a junior at Granite City High School and plays for the school’s baseball and football teams.
Before Arguelles became the owner of Kool Beanz, she had aspirations of becoming a teacher and running a coffeehouse.
“I studied to be a teacher, so my dream was to teach and have the café,” Arguelles said. “I fought very ambitiously that I would be able to run my cafe in the summer and teach during the school year. But that was an ambitious thought. Owning a restaurant is very time-consuming.”
Arguelles, 45, has lived in Granite City all of her life. She graduated from Granite City High in 1987.
Arguelles said having a restaurant in her hometown is a dream come true.
“It’s something I always wanted to do since I was a little girl,” Arguelles said. “I wanted to have a tea room, so it kind of morphed into the coffeehouse. I always wanted to serve and be a part of my community.”
Arguelles came up with an idea of having a coffeehouse 10 years ago.
“I actually started working on this concept with a friend (Chuck Hill),” Arguelles said. “It took quite a long time to find all of the vendors and to learn about our community and what we wanted in the market that we wanted to address. We worked for a very long time about nine years before the opportunity actually came up. We were looking for the right place. Then, he left. My husband and I continued with the project. We worked on it for a very long time, looking for the right place and waiting for the right time. God just began putting people in our lives that opened the doors for us and it was the right time.”
Arguelles said she credits one person for the success of her business.
“God,” Arguelles said. “No other credit but God. He has put people in my life that have supported us and made it happen, but He gets all of the credit. Every time the doorbell rings, I know it’s from Him.”
For more information, call (618) 877-5730.