Judging by long lines snaking out the door of every caffeine purveyor from Victory to Broughton, there can never be too many coffeeshops in downtown Savannah.
The latest buzz on the café scene is the Foundery Coffee Pub, strategically located across from SCAD's Anderson Hall on the corner of Anderson and Habersham streets. Offering all manner of espresso drinks, sweet snacks and a parking lot in back, it's a welcome addition that serves the speedy, "get in-get out" set as well as those who prefer to lounge with their lattes and laptops for hours on end.
The concept is simple and done right: Hot and cold coffee and tea beverages with specialties that include sweet n' strong cubano con leche, spicy chai tea and caramel maple lattes. The pastry shelves are filled with various confections from Back in the Day Bakery like Mexican hot chocolate cookies as well as FORM's famous flavored cheesecakes. Nothing complicated here; just high quality caffeine and sugar served with a smile.
Adhering to Savannah's fine-tuned coffee consciousness, beverages are made from beans ethically sourced and locally roasted by Cup to Cup's James Spano, who personally trained the Foundery's barista crew in the art of espresso. Though Spano is the wholesale supplier and not related to the business, Foundery proprietor Kevin Veitinger credits his support as part of café's foundation.
"James has been part of the dream since the beginning," says Veitinger, who has spent the better part of the last year readying the venture to open its doors.
Spano's commitment to quality drinks is echoed director of operations James Barfield.
"We call him 'The Godfather,'" jokes Barfield, who oversees the friendly staff, nattily decked out in vests and ties as part of the café's signature old-timey atmosphere.
The retro ambience is aided by red cushioned chairs and a dark wood bar created from reclaimed palettes by Wes Stoneman of RetroFit Custom Designs. A vintage 1920s Apollo player piano donated by Cheryl and Griffin Day beckons from the back wall, and if you ask nicely, Barfield might key it up to play renditions of "Maple Leaf Rag" and "Mack the Knife." (Don't be too fooled by the old school charm, however; the wi-fi connection is lightning-fast, courtesy of Digital Doc's Eric Sharpe.)
While college students certainly make up much of the foot traffic, Veitinger wants to attract nearby residents, artists and young families to the spacious new hangout. The walls serve as a revolving gallery space, and there's large conference table in back which groups of eight or more can reserve for free.
"We want to cultivate a place where this diverse neighborhood can meet itself," he says, noting that he chose the location not only for its proximity to SCAD but also for its mixed socioeconomic surroundings.
Many Savannahians already know Veitinger as the tattooed, soccer-playing, mutton-chopped Methodist minister known to hold services in bars and people's livingrooms. A longtime proponent of social justice and equality, he devised this venture as an incubator for programs that serve those ideals.
While the Foundery Coffee Pub is indeed backed by the United Methodist Church, Veitinger assures that there is nothing evangelical about the café's agenda.
"This is not a church; this is a coffeeshop where a church meets in the back."
He asserts that the Foundery's non-profit status, however, allows it to focus on providing a clean, well-lighted space for people to connect, grow and learn as they sip and snack.
But if you're just grabbing a hot cup to go, that's OK, too.
"Our goal is to be a catalyst for growing community," says Veitinger.
"And coffee is a great platform."