Expansion is brewing

Benjamin and Lindy Cloyd enjoy a bottle of wine shortly after opening Riverside Coffee Co. in 2018. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

Lindy and Benjamin Cloyd were taking a drive through Berlin in late 2017 when the building at 170 West Huron St. caught their eyes.

The structure had a “for sale” sign in the window; the couple looked at each other and thought; “that would make the cutest coffee shop.” 

Lindy had always dreamed of running her own coffee shop, but it was then that she finally took the next step toward making her dream a reality. 

She purchased the building, and Riverside Coffee Co. opened its doors in 2018, offering coffee, baked goods, craft beer and wine.

Lindy had prior restaurant experience while Benjamin previously had been self-employed. Together, they were able to build the cafe into a vibrant part of Berlin’s downtown.

Since opening, Lindy noted support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s scary to open up a small business, and having such a great response from the community has meant the world to us,” Lindy said. “That’s what it’s about, being there for the community, being part of the community and providing everybody with something that they didn’t have before.”

After two years of operating Riverside Coffee Co., she felt it was time to expand the business, buying the building next door back in April.

Currently, the duo is expanding its enterprise to include additional seating and a revamped menu. 

“It’s all about what we can provide for the community and for our customers to make it a place that they want to be,” Lindy said. “We’ve outgrown the space that we have, and we’ve been adding things as we go, but now we need more space.”

Lindy and Benjamin have knocked down part of the wall between the two properties, and are working on renovating the new building.

“We had to get through a brick wall and then another on the other side, so it’s been a large project,” Benjamin said. “Once we got through the walls, we found out that the next building over is about a foot and a half lower than our first property, so we’re going to have to end up building a ramp.”

Bricks lay near a hole in the wall that will eventually serve as a doorway between both locations. Joe Schulz photo

Once the renovations are complete, the new building will include couches with a wide array of seating options and a larger kitchen space.

“If you want to come in to work privately at a table, you can feel free to do that,” Lindy said. “If you want to lounge around on the couch and play a board game with some friends, you can do that.”

She added that the expansion would not be possible without the support of her loyal customers. 

“Without having our regulars coming in all the time and people bringing other people in, we’d never be able to continue with the business,” Lindy said. “That alone allowed us to look ahead and be able to make plans to start expanding a little bit.”

The revamped menu will increase food options by incorporating additional soups and sandwiches. 

Aside from the renovations, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected Riverside Coffee. The business temporarily closed in April and reopened in May. 

Since reopening, Riverside Coffee Co. has followed Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. (WEDC) guidelines of limiting capacity and routine cleaning. 

Beyond following WEDC guidelines, the restaurant has installed a plexiglass barrier at the counter and barred dine-in service inside the cafe, offering seating outside with a view of the Fox River. 

“We are taking every single precaution that we can,” Lindy said. “We were cautious about reopening.”

Beyond taking a financial hit, Lindy noted the eatery hasn’t been able to bring people together, host community events or feature live music. 

When it’s safe to do so, she hopes to bring people together to celebrate the renovation. 

“We don’t want to take the chance of risking anyone’s health,” Lindy said. 

Overall, Lindy says it’s been rewarding to build the business from the ground up while servicing the community. She can’t wait to bring people together and rebuild a sense of community post-pandemic. 

“Being in the small-town coffee shop business, we aren’t multimillionaires or anything like that — it’s not an end game in that way,” Lindy said. “The end game for us is to be a part of the community and hopefully expand that feeling throughout the rest of the downtown community.”