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Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016

Vanessa's: Brewing up more than just coffee

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Teresa Dansby and Donnia Ray, owners of Vanessa's Coffee Shop and More ... at 512 N. Main St., have worked to build their business slowly.
SIKESTON - When a customer described Vanessa's as one of Sikeston's best kept secrets, owners Teresa Dansby and Donnia Ray, knew it was meant as a compliment but were secretly dismayed - they want everyone to know about their venture.

No secrets here.

And Sikeston residents are finding their way to the small coffee shop and more tucked back from the street at 512 N. Main St. Since opening on Oct. 17, the business has steadily welcomed more and more customers.

The sisters decided to begin their business venture after Ray moved back to their hometown in 2005. Ray explained her former home of Lawrence, Kan., was filled to the brim with coffee houses and she missed them.

"I'm crazy about coffee and everyone is pretty educated about coffee these days but there wasn't a coffee shop in Sikeston," she explained.

A grand opening for Vanessa's is planned for later this spring.
For those who aren't familiar with coffees, the sisters and their 10 employees provide an introduction. "The espresso machine is the heart and soul of our business," said Ray, as she steamed milk to add to a latte. "It makes everything taste so much better."

Vanessa's offers hot and cold espresso, a finely ground coffee brewed under high heat and pressure to concentrate the coffee flavor; American coffee, which blends espresso with hot water; latte, the Italian espresso mixed with steamed milk; cappuccino, Italian espresso with hot steamed, foamed milk; or breve, Italian espresso with hot steamed half and half. They can continue the variety by blending in any of their dozens of flavorings.

Those who prefer filling their cup with another beverage, Vanessa's also offers 150 flavors of gourmet teas; Italian sodas which are created by blending sparkling water with syrups or creams; or smoothies made from regular or fat-free ice cream and fruits. Also there is bubble tea, caramel apple cider, soft drinks and milk to soothe a thirst.

Dansby points out just like with their coffees the staff at Vanessa's can add flavors to these drinks creating customer-requested specialties.

But Vanessa's is much more than just about coffee, the sisters point out. They have created a unique menu to fill the heartiest of appetites or those looking for something light and different.

Sandwiches range from roast beef to a reuben, from their grilled cheese featuring a blend of cheeses to the seafood salad. There are soups, chili and appetizers on the menu, too.

Listening to their customers, they are still developing their menu. Quiches were added in response to requests from hungry students while the char-

broiled Angus burger began as a special treat for a birthday party. Their burgers, said Ray with a bit of pride, have been described as "one of the best."

To meet customer demand (especially as the dieters showed up with their new year's resolutions), the sisters added salads. Many of their customers find the salads a filling meal, they said, when diners add one of the business' freshly baked croissants to their meal.

For something to go along with that cup of coffee or tea or soda, Vanessa's tempts customers with a variety of sweet treats. Freshly baked by one of the owners, on any given day there may be a chocolate cream-filled cake, a strawberry cake or one of their home-made pies. There are biscotti, scones and cookies as well.

Their spaghetti ice cream even comes with a dare - "We challenge you to eat it with a fork." A spoon might be easier to dig into the concoction which is created by forcing the air from the ice cream to create streams that look similar to spaghetti noodles. These are topped by strawberry puree for the look of sauce, white chocolate shavings creates the "Parmesan cheese" and the added touch of malted balls and a vanilla cookie to complete the appearance of meatballs and bread sticks.

There is plenty of room to enjoy time spent at Vanessa's. Seating for some 75 to 80 customers is available around tables or in the various overstuffed chairs and couches throughout the two floors of the restaurant. Their set up, the sisters noted, allows for them to provide seating for groups and parties.

Many of their customers have already staked out a special chair where they can enjoy a cup of coffee and read while others keep an eye on the television. Others bring their laptop computers and make use of the free wireless Internet access.

As summer nears, the owners plan to add outdoor seating next to the building.

While variety is important, value is also key to their business success, the sisters insisted. Customers get their money's worth, they said, whether it is in the 16-ounce servings for coffee, a 32-ounce fountain drink or their large scoop of chicken salad atop a flaky croissant.

"We strive to have a good variety of menu items and what customers really like is that everything is homemade. It is made fresh and made to order," said Ray.

And, added Dansby, they cater to every age from kids to senior citizens.

"Our goal is to have a place where our customers feel comfortable," she said. "Like they are at home."

Currently Vanessa's is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday with extended summer hours planned.

And, added Ray, don't keep them a secret, tell your friends.