Leyla and Brad Williams (Photo: Geisel)
Popular local coffee shop The Looney Bean, noted for both its locally-roasted beans and the Looney Babes that staff the counter, was sold to new owners, Leyla and Brad Williams this past Wednesday.
Turns out the couple have been “looney” about the Bean ever since they became loony for each other some 18 years ago, when Joe Walker first opened the joint. “The old location on Main Street is where we first held hands and kissed for the first time,” they recalled.
After a dozen years in Malibu, the couple moved back here six years ago. Even during the big winters of 2004 and 2005, they still made the daily trek to the Bean. Not surprising, since both are avowed “coffee shop tourists.”
“We sort of collect them,” Brad said.
“Traveling around the world a lot, we’d research them,” Leyla explained, describing shops in a diverse group of lands, such as Turkey, Israel, Jordan, Japan and Botswana. “One of my favorites is in Israel, and it’s been bombed a few times, but the owners are survivors … they keep rebuilding it!”
Leyla said one of their goals has been to own their own coffee house, but they didn’t want to start a new business, only to see it fail. “When it comes to coffee, this is a very loyal community,” Brad said. “So we waited.”
They attempted to buy the Bean two years ago, but said “the timing wasn’t there.” Former owner Brent Kennedy had entertained various offers over the years, but was reluctant to sell. “So we had a baby girl instead,” Leyla said. (The couple also has a son, who’s almost six years old.) “And bought a house,” Brad added. “In fact, the day escrow closed last November, Brent called.”
Their dream of owning the Bean soon became reality.
Don’t expect any major changes. They like the Bean pretty much as is, though on the drawing board are ideas such as sprucing up the landscaping, expanding the baked goods department and more summertime use of the patio. Oh, and maybe adding a “Looney Locals Photo Gallery.”
“We have a rad local core that loves to show off,” Leyla quipped. “And those locals are a little crazy … no, wait, LOONEY!”
Kennedy said he was appreciative of his former customers. “Thanks to everyone for your years of local support, and I hope you’ll continue to support the new owners,” he told The Sheet on Wednesday. His next move: open a roastery in Carson City, and continue to work with Paul Schat, who opened a Schat’s Bakery there.