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At left, Sage Barrett, the owners’ daughter, and Victoria Dahl greet customers at Coffee Culture, a new coffeeshop in Bay St. Louis owned by chefs Thomas and Dana Hirsch-Barrett.

Coast chefs’ new coffeeshop takes off

It just happened to work out that Thomas and Dana Hirsch-Barrett opened Coffee Culture, their new coffee shop in Bay St. Louis, on Small Business Saturday. “It was a coincidence but we were hoping to open on Nov. 30 because we truly are what a small business is,” Hirsch-Barrett said.

Coffee Culture is the chef couple’s first foray into operating a coffee shop and their first venture outside of Harrison County, and things are working out even better than they expected.

 Working with contractors, the Barretts spent about six weeks transforming Cannella, a German-Italian restaurant on U.S. 90, into a cozy coffeeshop with lots of wood and pops of colorful accents. After being open for just six weeks, the owners are ready to add more space.

 “We realized it’s been doing so well that we are going to move on to phase 2 and expand,” said Hirsch-Barrett. “We’ll make more room for customers to hang out and enjoy themselves.”

 Removing a wall between the coffee station and the unused back area of the building will open up space for more couches where customers can sit and enjoy their coffee, tea and pastries, she said. Some space with books will be set aside for children.

Coffee Culture is open daily from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and features coffee by the cup or bag from the well known Long Beach-based company Coast Roast, along with Chai and matcha tea, scones and bagels made mostly from scratch.

 Customers can choose the indoor seating or on the screened-in pet-friendly porch or use the drive-through window. For now, service is provided by the staff of Sea Level, the Barretts’ popular Pass Christian beachside restaurant.

 Sea Level, a tiny beach cottage on wheels, is known for its award winning burgers and tacos, hand cut fries and homemade spring rolls filled with spinach and artichoke. Sea Level operates seasonally and closed Oct. 30. It will be open again on Jan. 4 with limited hours until the days get longer.

 The Barretts have extensive experience owning and running restaurants. Dana’s family opened Harbor View Cafe in 1994 in Pass Christian and rebuilt in Long Beach after Hurricane Katrina. They sold the restaurant a couple of years ago and opened Sea Level.

 “We were a little nervous at first because none of us had done coffee but we’re excited about how we have been received by the community. Local business people have become regulars and are so welcoming. It’s touching to us how people have come to support us.”

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About Lisa Monti