Etna's Shiny Bean open for business
Alaina Hermanowski hasn't let the obstacles she has encountered while opening her Etna coffee and tea shop obscure her dream.
She initially had planned to purchase a Grant Street building for the space, but the deal fell through a week prior to closing. Then, she attempted to purchase 333 Butler St., only to discover that the property had years of unpaid taxes. Hermanowski said that state Rep. Dom Costa and his staff served as her liaisons when trying to consult with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regarding the issue.
After 18 months of negotiations, she closed on the building in February. The Shiny Bean Coffee & Tea opened June 20.
“The other deal fell through but this is just a better location and a better building, and I've always wanted to do the community space where people could do stuff and reserve the room. And this just has more space to do that and I'm better able to do that,” Hermanowski of Shaler said.
Throughout the ordeal, she and her husband, Kevin Sullivan, viewed the espresso machine in their garage as a reminder of Hermanowski's unrealized goal. They debated about selling the appliance.
“I was like, no. It'll happen. If it's meant to be, it'll happen. And so, here we are.”
The machine will serve two types of regular espresso and one decaffeinated version daily.
“Just like wine, espressos have different flavor profiles and flavor notes,” she said.
The Shiny Bean will carry Millvale-based Tupelo Honey Teas, along with nitro cold brew coffee, Italian sodas and homemade draft root beer. Her son, Austin, a Brugge on North chef, is preparing a menu of breakfast sandwiches, soups and salads.
She is using the first floor of the sprawling three story, approximately 5,000-square-foot space. The espresso machine will set atop the shop's counter. Inspired by quiet commuter trains available through Amtrak and other carriers, Hermanowski plans to offer a quiet room for people to work or read.
Hermanowski is soliciting art from locals to fill the building's extensive wall space. She will allow the artists to display and sell their pieces for three months. Initially she won't charge commissions for sold art, but plans to charge minimal fees down the line. She will introduce each round of displays with receptions for the artists' family and friends.
“Etna is thrilled to welcome The Shiny Bean Coffee & Tea house to Etna,” said Mary Ellen Ramage, borough manager. “This is such a wonderful space with lots of room for opportunities, and Alaina seems to be full of ideas for utilizing the space creatively, with art displays, meeting rooms and other possibilities.”
Hermanowski named her shop The Shiny Bean for several reasons. First, she said that she's “a girly girl,” who adores sparkles, glitter and shine. Second, fresh coffee beans may exude a shine from their oils.
“The other part of it is if you look at my husband and my father, who are two of the most important people in my life — my mother is also a big part of my life, but she doesn't fit this description — but they both have shiny beans,” meaning bald heads.
Her father, Joseph, has influenced her with his entrepreneurial spirit. For 50 years, he owned Hermanowski Wholesale Inc., which supplied local mom-and-pop stores with chips and candy prior to transitioning into a convenience store, in the Strip District.
Her father taught her that, “You can get what you want out of life when you work hard and you put your mind to it,” she said.
Erica Cebzanov is a Tribune-Review contributor.