Nib’s House of Coffee
A young lady named Peggy began working as a waitress and, before long, she and Larry fell in love and became partners in work and life.
Little did they know their love story would get a modern retelling by their grandson, Brady Yingling, and his high school sweetheart, Nichole.
When Brady graduated from Seaman High School in 2000, he went to work for his uncle Brian at the Yingling’s Auto Service Center. When Nichole graduated from Seaman in 2002, she started working at a local credit union. Both were also full-time students at Washburn University, Brady majoring in business and Nichole studying to become a teacher.
Brady began talking with his uncle about what could be done with a portion of the Yingling's building that had been vacant for quite some time. One day, out of the blue, he called Nichole and asked, "Do you want to start a coffee shop?"
Perhaps it was the idealism that comes with young love, but Nichole said "yes" to the proposal, and Nib's House of Coffee was born.
"We didn't know what we were doing, we just really wanted to do something on our own and this was it," Nichole said. "A few people were negative about it, but that was motivation. We were like, 'We'll show you!'"
Nichole was 19 years old; Brady was 21. They went to a state office and got a packet on what paperwork was needed, then, in Spring 2003, put on a pot of coffee. What would go with the coffee? Well, it was the height of the Krispy Kreme doughnut craze.
"We'd drive to Lawrence every morning, leave at 3:30 a.m., to pick up doughnuts," Nichole said. "I would stand along North Topeka Boulevard and we'd sell dozens of doughnuts off the streets, then I had a flyer taped up to show people we were a coffee shop."
THE HONEYMOON PERIOD
Slowly, the couple built up a core of regular customers. Nichole says it was a blessing it was so slow at first, admitting the couple made a lot of mistakes.
"Six months into it, we realized how hard it was going to be," she said. "There was a lot to it; it was a lot of hours; we didn't know anything. We didn't have any help. We learned it the hard way."
Nichole switched her major to business with emphasis in accounting; Brady's was finance and management. "We were hoping between the two of us, we'd have a well-rounded education," she said.
Brady was continuing part-time work at Yingling's and had started a lawn care business, Lawn Tech. Nichole eventually took a semester off school to devote time to getting the coffee shop business on solid ground.
"It took three years before we started to figure out what we were going to be," she said. "We saw the finances. Our first business plan of just selling coffee didn't work; we had to grow. We realized, in North Topeka, we had to be more than a coffee shop. We had to be a cafe."
They added sandwiches to the menu and wedding rings to their fingers. Nichole and Brady married in 2005.
"We closed for two days around the wedding and we put up a sign that said, 'Join Us,'" Nichole recalls. “We had so many customers and regulars come our wedding. They brought us gifts and danced with us. It was really sweet."
THE BREAK UP
But then, as often does, life happened. Nichole and Brady welcomed their first daughter, Kenadie, into the world.
Brady had grown Lawn Tech into a thriving business. In addition to overseeing Nib's, Nichole was using her accounting knowledge to assist with the bookkeeping for the lawn care side of the family finances. Juggling the business responsibilities with the stresses of first-time motherhood made them willing to listen when one of their lawn customers, the owners of Juice Stop in Lawrence, approached them about buying Nib's.
"It was hard because we had (Kenadie) and I knew how much time I had to spend down here (at the coffee shop) and thought, 'That's really not fair,'" Nichole said. "I felt like I was letting my customers down. I cried. It was a very tough decision, but it was the right decision. It was for the family."
Nichole never totally retired. She stayed home, raising Kenadie, while assisting Brady with the business end of Lawn Tech. A few years later, their second daughter, Hope, arrived.
That’s when they heard the news— the coffee shop, their coffee shop, was on the market and, if a buyer couldn’t be found, it would likely close.
“I was not going to let this little place be closed and not exist anymore,” Nichole said. “I had spent those first seven years (building it) and I knew it was a great little place. And, I knew North Topeka needs a nice little place.”
Hope was six months old when Nichole and Brady officially retook control of Nib’s House of Coffee at 2525 NW Topeka Boulevard last spring, the same age Kenadie was when they decided to sell it. But this time, with experience on their side, they knew they could make it work.