All you have to do is look down as you enter Bird & Bean Coffee House to see a piece of Dothan history.
Light green terrazzo tile marks the entrance of what was once Baxters Shoe Store. The tile had been covered by a stage and expanded entrance to the building by a previous owner.
If you want more, step inside. There, you’ll find a bright and airy coffee shop with large skylights, open rafters, heart pine floors and table tops constructed from the former shoe store shelving with years of different paint colors showing through. Hand-forged nails jut out from a ceiling beam under the back skylight – left in place because owner Christy Keyton thought they were too cool to be removed.
Canvas prints of old Baxter family photos are framed and hang on the coffee shop’s walls, showing the store how it looked in the 1930s. Keyton even found and framed an old piece of shoe box tissue that encourages people buy war bonds and remember Pearl Harbor.
“It’s just like preserving a piece of downtown history, and that’s what I love about it so much,” Keyton said. “It’s exceedingly, abundantly beyond all I ever asked or thought this could be.”
When Keyton and her husband, Johnny, bought the building at 144 N. Foster St., they knew it needed work. It felt like a cave with a black drop-tray ceiling, black carpet and brown walls. They had no idea it would take more than a year, and they had no idea what the end result would look like once they stripped the interior down to original flooring, walls and ceiling.
Still, all their hard work seems to be paying off.
Keyton said she knew a downtown coffee shop would do well based on the number of inquiries she received at her Naomi & Olive store, which now connected to the coffee shop via a brick archway.
Not even open a full two weeks, the new coffee house in downtown Dothan has seen a surprising response from local coffee lovers. So much so, they keep running out of milk. And, there’s already a Friday coffee group dubbing themselves the “Bird & Bean Boys.”
“I’m shocked that we’ve done this well,” Keyton said. “I expected it would go over, but I expected it would take a while.”
Customers have kept the coffee shop hopping since it opened, Keyton said. Even on social media, the response has surpassed anything they experienced with Naomi & Olive. It has taken Keyton two years to amass 1,300 followers for Naomi & Olive on Instagram. Bird & Bean reached 1,000 followers in just three days.
Naomi & Olive, recently nominated for the Alabama Retail Association’s Customer’s Choice award, is celebrating its second anniversary with a birthday bash on Saturday featuring a silhouette artist and a water color artist. The retail store has benefitted from the coffee shop. Since the two businesses are connected, customers tend to visit both sides. The two businesses share similar images (a bird’s feather) and colors.
Keyton said she hopes people will find an inviting spot – a cozy nest, if you will − when they visit both businesses.
“I just want people to come in here and feel warm and feel welcome,” Keyton said. “That’s why we have games. I looked up the other day and there was a couple in the front window playing Scrabble, there was a family playing Candy Land, there was a table full of teenagers playing cards, and I just thought my heart would burst open I was so happy.”