West Columbia coffee shop to finally get home it can make its own

Posted 8/23/23

For a year and a half, Brickhouse Gourmet Coffee & Tea Co. has been in a weird spot.

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West Columbia coffee shop to finally get home it can make its own


For a year and a half, Brickhouse Gourmet Coffee & Tea Co. has been in a weird spot.

The business — which started in 2019 as a nomadic and online outlet for coffee beans and tea leaves, connecting with customers digitally and at local markets — moved into the small cafe attached to the front of Prima Gourmet’s large industrial kitchen space in West Columbia. That market and meal service business was attempting to reopen and rebrand in February 2022 following a temporary closure, bringing in Brickhouse to add locally produced caffeination.

But Primal’s bid at new vitality was short-lived, as it ceased operation less than two months later.

Brickhouse kept going in the space, doing what it could to attract customers to the building with a small, temporary yard sign placed in front of the old Primal sign at 725 Meeting St. The building is for sale, making the installation of new signage unrealistic.

Soon, though, Brickhouse will get to move into a new space and make it its own.

Co-owner Akera Sellers told the Chronicle the shop will soon move into the building immediately next door, taking over a storefront at 729 Meeting St. previously occupied by the boutique Messie’s Closet. The white brick building also houses the Preserve & Co. boutique, Columbia Marking Products and temporarily closed pride bar The Spot on Meeting St.

The hope is for Brickhouse to open in the new location by the end of September.

When Messie’s moved out this spring, Sellers says he and his wife/co-owner weren’t sure about the new space at first, but once they got into it, they saw the potential.

“The space is much smaller than where we are now,” he said. “But it’s an opportunity for us to personalize it and make it our own. Because that’s what we wanted to do originally. And that’s what we had plans on doing when we started sharing the space with Primal, but shortly after we moved in, they ended up closing business so we’ve never had that opportunity to put signs up and let people know who we are and where we are.”

There will be food, but not a full kitchen due to space limitations, and the plan is to eventually sell beer and wine.

Sellers emphasized maintaining and building on the shop’s vibe as a place for people to come and casually enjoy a coffee or tea, have a meeting or get a little work done. He also emphasized how important the additional visibility will be for Brickhouse.

“One of the main things we’re super excited about is the opportunity of putting a nice sign up so people can see just where we are,” Sellers said. “Because that’s the ultimate challenge.”

Overcoming that challenge, though, has allowed Brickhouse to quickly ingrain itself into the West Columbia community, serving coffee at the city’s Meeting Street Artisan Market and taking part in various other community events 

That closeness to the community is why staying in West Columbia has been an emphasis as the shop has looked for a new space.

“West Columbia is definitely where I wanted to stay,” Sellers said.

For now, the Brickhouse roasting and packaging operation will remain about an hour and a half away in Hartsville, with Sellers’ wife, Alexis, overseeing that part of the business while he manages the shop. About 13 people work to keep the Hartsville operation going, but the West Columbia end of things has mostly been Akera, with the occasional student hired to help out here and there.

That has meant a lot of 12-hour, open-to-close shifts for Sellers on top of the work to keep Brickhouse stocked with fresh coffee and tea and manage other logistics of operating a coffee shop.

“I do expect to hire some people when we do move into the new space because we’re going to to offer a lot more,  and it can be challenging enough alone, just handling the drinks, but if we’re offering food and everything else, I’m definitely gonna be looking to bring some people on,” he said. 

“That means I’ll be able to take a lunch break,” he laughed. “That’s what I’m looking forward to.”

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