Lexington shop gets national attention after giving coffee to customers of burglarized businesses

jmadden@herald-leader.comDecember 12, 2013 

UPDATE at 11:33 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 12: The Morris Book said on its Facebook page that the shop had been broken into again, on Thursday night.

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After a string of burglaries at businesses in downtown Lexington, one small coffee shop decided to react with kindness.

A Cup of Common Wealth coffee shop and four other businesses were burglarized within the last week, according to Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts.

"At this point we do have a detective looking into all of these to see if they are connected, but it's too early to say," she said. All but one of the businesses had money taken.

A Cup of Common Wealth owners Chris Ortiz and Salvador Sanchez said they decided to respond positively and wanted to include everyone.

Located at 105 Eastern Avenue, their shop is offering a free cup of coffee to patrons who make a purchase at the four other businesses. Customers do not need to show a receipt; the shop is based solely on a honor system.

The other businesses are Hair Razors, Stuartos Olive Oil, Morris Book Shop and The Collective.

"At the end of the day we just want the community to be happy," said Sanchez. He said random acts of kindness create "a ripple effect. It's contagious."

The coffee shop window was broken after the burglar or burglars failed to get in through the front door, Sanchez said. The window has since been boarded up with plywood.

"We were devastated," Ortiz said about the burglary. "When things get rough, we just slide behind the (coffee) bar and everything is okay."

Sanchez said after the burglary, people from the community brought in food for them and their customers.

Based on their mission: "Embrace community, serve others and create culture," the shop opened in July with a pay-it-forward system. Customers can buy a drink for someone else and designate the parameters for the recipient.

The gift is then written on the "board," which started off as a large roll of brown paper but now has spilled over onto cup holders that hang on a brick wall.

The system has prompted the owners, both 30, to place a small Christmas tree in the shop where people can drop off gifts and those in need can take one.

The coffee shop has gained some national attention. The Huffington Post wrote about the shop's response to the burglaries, and the men say business has picked up.

"If anything, we have a hard time controlling it," said Sanchez. The shop's Facebook page has more than 2,400 likes, and their Instagram page has 1,200 followers.

Sanchez concluded: "More than anything, it's about the community."

Justin Madden: (859) 231-3197. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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