In June 2013, the Lincoln Highway Centennial Celebration brought hundreds of travelers from across the United States through Belle Plaine as they followed the route of the nation’s first paved transcontinental road.
Many of those travelers stopped at By the Cup, which had opened its doors just days earlier.
“Some are still sending postcards,” said owner April McIntire.
A desire to connect with people was one of the things that prompted McIntire to open the coffee shop, which celebrates its first birthday on today (June 17).
McIntire worked for years as a full-time 911 dispatcher in Benton County. While she loved being a reassuring voice on the telephone in someone’s time of need, she missed making more personal connections.
“You don’t get any closure,” explained McIntire, who still dispatches part time.
The other thing that led McIntire to her new business was a need she saw in Belle Plaine for a community gathering place. The city, which was selected a Main Street Iowa Community in 2008 and has undergone a revitalization effort, lacked a coffee shop.
“We needed a place for the community to hang out,” said McIntire, who also serves on the Belle Plaine City Council. “I wanted to open the kind of place where anybody and everybody could come in and feel at home.”
Located in a remodeled soda shop, By the Cup has a large seating area, free Wi-Fi, and works by local artists on display.
A large room in the back serves as a meeting place for local organizations and the venue for free monthly children’s activities.
In addition to coffee drinks, a seasonal menu features soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps and baked goods. Homemade cinnamon rolls and pies are the shop’s specialties.
One of McIntire’s proudest moments in the last year was hosting a silent auction to raise money for the Belle Plaine library.
Several customers donated items for the auction, which netted over $500 for the library’s microfilm conversion project.
“It was a neat, whole-community project that we were able to do because of our amazing customers,” she said.
By the Cup will mark its first anniversary with food and drink specials, live music throughout the day, and a drawing for a family pool pass.
“You’ll find big city flavor at small town price and service,” McIntire said. “While you’re here, explore our town. We’ve come a long way in the last five years.”
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At a Glance
•Owner: April McIntire
•Business: By the Cup
•Address: 817 12th St., Belle Plaine
•Phone: (319) 444-7089