When Meadville, PA’s Voodoo Brewing opened a satellite location in Homestead’s historic municipal building in 2015, it was a purposeful decision by ownership “to be part of something bigger than just making beer,” said one of Voodoo’s principal owners, Jake Voelker.
“It was going to be about the rebirth of a local community,” he told NEXTpittsburgh.
Voelker and his business partner, Dan Kelly, have taken that same philosophy and applied it to Steel Valley Roasters, which will open at 207 E. 8th Ave. It will be the only coffee shop in Homestead outside of the Waterfront.
The 2,000-square-foot shop will be located in the front of Local Motion, a yoga and cycle studio Kelly owns with fellow Mon Valley native Laura Fonzi Rhodehamel, a sports science professor at the University of Pittsburgh.
“We all have different jobs,” says Voelker. “We all have a million other things going on, but [this coffee shop] is first and foremost about Homestead.”
Kelly and Voelker serve as president and vice president, respectively, of Steel Valley Avenues, an advocacy group for the main street businesses in Homestead, West Homestead and Munhall.
Kelly, a Munhall native, moved back to Pittsburgh from San Diego in 2009 to take a job in medical sales and bought his grandparents old home in West Homestead.
“Homestead has all the attributes of a neighborhood on the brink of exploding,” says Kelly. “I wanted to be part of the community’s development.”
First and foremost, the pair wanted to create a community space that wasn’t a bar (or brewery) where people can meet or hang out during the day.
“Look at what the coffee shops in the Mexican War Streets have done,” says Voelker. “They’re real community places.”
They have also agreed to host interns as part of the Homestead-based 2Steps2Work Program, a job training program for Steel Valley and Propel High School students.
“It teaches students to get along and get ahead,” says program manager Susanne Hobart.
While Voelker’s ownership stake in the coffee shop is independent of his role at Voodoo, there are a few apparent similarities between the craft roastery and craft brewery.
Most apparent is the commitment to craft. A slew of single-origin beans from Pittsburgh’s Farm to Roast will be roasted in-house on a Mill City roaster. Food options include juices from Pittsburgh Juice Company and sweet and savory baked goods from Threefifty. There’s also talk of Sunday brunches in the future.
Another similarity: whereas Voodoo is employee-owned, employees of Steel Valley Roasters are given an equity stake in the company.
There’s also a similar aesthetic. A number of historic Homestead artifacts are on loan from Voodoo, including the original Homestead Borough fire wagon built in 1880.
The building itself has been home to countless businesses over the years, including Homestead Variety in the ’80s and ’90s, though it was originally constructed as a vaudeville theater, whose name has been lost to time.
Pending various regulatory seals of approval, the grand opening will be October 28.