catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 3 :: 2005.02.11 — 2005.02.24


What a Wonderful World

It happens every time I walk through the door, whether on my way to work for an amaretto mocha and a cinnamon roll or in the evening with my wife for a cup of hot Earl Grey and a monster cookie. I smile. It?s the kind of smile that comes from a small good thing in a small good place. It?s like the Raymond Carver story where a young, mourning couple and a crotchety, single baker find peace and fellowship over a warm loaf of bread.

Wonderful World coffeehouse in Sheboygan, Wisconsin lives up to its name, as a pointer to the world God labeled ?good? and a microcosm of the community surrounding it. Judy Stock and her life-partner Leigh Robert started the business as a near afterthought. They had intended to start a doggie-diner where other pet-lovers could mingle and eat without leaving the rest of their families at home, but were stymied by local restrictions. After a local concert (Judy is an accomplished musician) the couple and some friends drove around town searching for a place to continue the evening over a cup of coffee. ?The only thing open was McDonald?s,? explained Judy. ??That?s it.? I said, I?m opening a place.?

Although they had been fearful of leaking their idea of a doggie-diner earlier, Judy realized that she was letting ?fear stop the flow.? She told everybody her plan for a coffeehouse. They found an empty storefront on Michigan Avenue, a historic street experiencing a renaissance, and with the help of their friends and church community, they completely gutted and renovated the space in nine months. In November of 2003, Wonderful World was born.

Perhaps the most important transformation was the spirit that has been poured into the building. Wonderful World officially started with members from the church coming over to bless the space. Judy and Leigh continue to say ?thank you? whenever they come in. They?re not the only ones. One woman confessed to Judy that the coffee shop may have saved her marriage. Her husband loved the chili and they began to go out and talk instead of stay in and watch TV. The coffee house gave them an opportunity and location to communicate.

This spirit of thankfulness has fostered a unique place. ?We wanted a safe place for people to come. We wanted everybody to feel welcome,? explained Judy. This hospitable spirit is shown in the people who work at and frequent the business. Employees range in ages from 16-81. Group homes come for special events. Several mornings a week, Judy provides a place for parents to meet and mingle while their children listen to her sing. Music is provided most evenings as well. High school students and grandparents show up for Karaoke night, open-mic nights and other miscellaneous concerts. For Judy, music had always been a solitary thing (plan and practice for a gig, play a set, go home and plan again). ?Here, I have the best of both worlds,? she said.

The community does as well. Wonderful World is a place that is fostering a more intimate understanding of true community, and as I continue to attend their events and enjoy the fellowship I find there, I become part of that fostering?I understand more intimately my role in this place.

You can visit Wonderful World Coffeehouse on the web or at 1022 Michigan Avenue in downtown Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

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