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Third Way Cafe Debuts New Renovation, Second Location

Susan Post Susan Post Third Way Cafe Debuts New Renovation, Second LocationThird Way Cafe has opened it second location in partnership with All People Arts - All photos by Susan Post
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Third Way Cafe is bringing its motto of pursuing good together to the South Side.

The coffee shop, which opened its first location in Westgate at 3058 W. Broad St. in December 2017, has opened its second spot in partnership All People Arts at 1865 Parsons Ave.

Located inside the organization’s gallery, art and coffee collide to create a space for community members to view work from local artists or sit and enjoy a cup of coffee.

One of Third Way Co-Founder John Rush’s other social enterprises, CleanTurn, had an existing partnership with the gallery’s parent organization, Community Development For All People. When All People Arts expressed interest in including a coffee shop in their space, they reached out to Third Way.

Tim Rush (l) and John Rush (r), Co-Founders of Third Way Cafe

It was exactly the kind of opportunity Third Way was looking for to expand its footprint and philosophy.

“We do have plans where we want to grow and expand, especially in targeted areas where there is a potential for development or development starting to happen,” Rush says. “And the reason why we want to target such locations is…we want to be a part of the conversation on how development can happen in a human-centered way.”

Rush says Third Way wants to be very intentional about where they place their coffee shops, targeting areas where there is potential for development and conversations around development starting to happen, and be a voice against unjust gentrification.

Third Way’s name is a reflection of its philosophy. In today’s current left and right polarized society, the coffee shop wants to encourage people to think in a different way – to see the shades of gray and have conversations that lead to more understanding.

The space includes a limited number of tables for customers to sit and enjoy their coffee

And outside of the conversations Third Way looks to create, the shops also want to be supporters of all things local.

“We don’t have any intentions of roasting,” Rush says. “Our goal is to celebrate local roasters.”

Third Way utilizes local, Central Ohio based roasters for the coffee it serves in its cafes everyday, to the bags of retail beans available to purchase at the shop. Both shops offer a full lineup of coffee and espresso drinks, from nitro cold brew to hot and iced lattes.

A Westgate neighbor keeps the cafes stocked with a selection of sweets. Slice of Heaven bakery supplies muffins, cookies, cinnamon rolls and more to hungry patrons, offering a lineup of both vegan and full-dairy treats.

Koko, a sustainable living shop around the corner from the Westgate cafe, also has its footprint on the concept, keeping the cafes stocked with essentials like soap and toilet paper.

Renovations to the Westgate cafe made the expansion to the South Side possible. During the pandemic, the original cafe received some long-planned upgrades, which exposed the building’s brick wall, saw new wood flooring be installed, opened up the ceiling and gave the shop a permanent coffee bar. The brand’s fully operating mobile espresso bar now serves the South Side cafe.

The renovations at the original cafe created more space for guests

By focusing on carryout and online preorders, Third Way’s flagship location was able to weather both the pandemic and renovations without ever shutting down. And not only weather, but find business staying steady or even increasing year over year.

Third Way Co-Founder Tim Rush credits their neighborhood community with keeping the shop going despite the year’s challenges.

“The area that we’re in, people just cared about us,” Tim says.

With most folks working from home, Third Way became the respite for a cup of coffee and a few minutes out of the house. Understanding the toll the pandemic could take on neighborhood businesses like theirs, Tim says folks showed up and were asking how they could help.

During the pandemic, the cafe launched its Kindness Cards program. Guests can buy pay-it-forward drinks for a specific community member like a healthcare worker, teacher or COVID survivor.
The Kindness Cards have not only provided drinks for folks that really need them, but created a new sustainable revenue source for the shop.

As the situation with the pandemic wanes, Tim is excited to bring the community back together through the events and programming that have helped sustain their business model. Food trucks are starting to roll again and the shop has been hosting a spin session with local DJ Chris Bell on Sunday afternoons.

The shop will also look to host some new events this year that dovetail with happenings like the Westgate Farmers Market. Art Brunch will bring food trucks, local artists and vendors to the corner of Broad and Westmoor for coffee and fun.

While shop number two just opened, Third Way has plans to keep on expanding with what Rush describes as a 10-year target, three-year picture and one-year plan.

“Our goal is to open up five shops over the next two years,” Rush says. In 10 years, he hopes for 100 shops, in Columbus and beyond.

“The point for us is not so much how do we create a business that makes a lot of money, it’s the impact that could have,” Rush says. “So if there’s a 100 different locations where people are pursuing good together, and encouraging empathy and pursuing a desire to understand folks better…that could actually be kind of cool,” Rush says.

They’ll continue to be intentional with where they set up shop, and plan to look at markets like Cincinnati next.

As a social enterprise, employment will be an important part of Third Way’s future as well. The shops look to provide barista training and employment opportunities for previously incarcerated individuals. Rush hopes that with these jobs skills, individuals can find employment or even entrepreneurial or franchise opportunities with the coffee shop, or segue into jobs at other local businesses.

Third Way Cafe Westgate, 3058 W. Broad St., is open from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday to Friday and 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Third Way Cafe South Side, 1865 Parsons Ave., is open from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.

For more information, visit thirdwaycafe.org.

All photos by Susan Post

Third Way & All People Arts’ corner of Parsons Avenue
The South Side shop also includes a large patio space
The patio includes a multi-sided mural
Third Way Cafe is utilizing its mobile coffee bar for its shop on the South Side
Work from local artists on display in the All People Arts Gallery
Freedom/Freedman (background) & Cove – Red (foreground) by Lawrence Lemon
The Westgate coffee shop’s new coffee bar
New seating and light fixtures
Treats from Slice of Heaven
Art lines the walls in the newly-renovated cafe
Part of the cafe’s back space which can be rented for private events
The back room, dubbed the “thought box” is available for rentals anytime, while the entire space can be rented after hours
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