Longtime Neosho residents Terry and Kathy Tessmer approached the Neosho Traffic Commission on Thursday to get the OK to proceed on work to create a drive-through window and outdoor seating area at their building at 114 N. Wood St., just off the downtown square.
"I'm looking at a small coffee-shop, with wi-fi, kind of Starbucks-y like," Terry Tessmer said.
The Tessmers took their idea before the six-member commission because in order to create the drive-through window, the alleyway would be converted into a one-way, and to create the outdoor seating area, the sidewalk would need extended outward.
The traffic commission voted to recommend to the Neosho City Council that the Tessmers' be allowed to perform the proposed work.
That work would involve marking the alleyway, located between their building and Kelly and Compton, CPA, as a one-way, as well as extending the sidewalk in front of their business by about six-feet, into the parking space in front, to allow for an outdoor seating area.
"If the city approved this of course it would be my expense," Terry Tessmer added.
"As far as the parking place, basically you're taking up the parking space in front of your business, I don't have a problem with that," said councilman David Ruth, who also serves on the traffic commission.
Mike Hightower, public works director, said he did also not see a problem with converting the alley into a one-way, as there are plenty of outlets in that area.
While the traffic commission gave them the go-ahead, the Tessmers will go before the city council on Feb. 5 for final approval.
Terry Tessmer said they also plan to talk with their neighbors on both sides, Kelly and Compton, CPA and the Neosho Beauty College, to get their blessings before moving forward with the work.
While a new coffee shop moved into the Neosho Square only a few months ago, the Tessmers say there are still some coffee shop attractions not offered in Neosho.
One of those attractions is the option of a drive-through window.
"That is a big plus, that's why we're here tonight, to know if we could," Kathy Tessmer said. "There isn't any other place in Neosho like that. This building lends itself quite well to that."
Terry Tessmer said the concept of the downtown and historic parts of Bentonville, Ark., is part of the inspiration for the couple, and is what they would like to see on a smaller scale in Neosho.
"Being able to freely walk from Sam's Cellar to our place to the Grotto to Angelica's," he said. "Maybe have a Friday evening and Saturday night. A place for any age group is kind of what we're targeting."
The building at one time served as Severs-Stroop Plumbing and Heating and Kathy Tessmer said the building was built in the early 1900s.
The Tessmers said they plan to keep the historic value of the building's exterior, though they intend on giving the inside a more modern feel, and have already begun working with an architect.
At this point, Terry said the inside of the building has been gutted, though he wants to wait to do further work until the couple gets the approval of the city on their outdoor projects.
While the main attraction would be the coffee shop, the Tessmers would also like to create some meeting room space in the back, or perhaps an area that could be rented out for receptions or used for classes, such as Zumba.
Meanwhile, the upstairs could serve as an office space and also house a single apartment.
The Tessmers also own a lot behind the building, where Terry hopes to add parking or a patio area.
While the plans are still in the early stages, and the Tessmers are unsure just yet of an opening date, they do hope to open their doors to the Neosho community sooner than later, and named the early summer as the goal for a soft opening.
The intent, they said, is to offer Neosho residents a place where they can relax.
"We have visited lots of different cities, large cities, and loved coffee shops, the outdoor sitting area cafés, just the gathering of the people," Kathy Tessmer said. "There is a need. There's not a lot of meeting places for people to get together in the mornings, or after work, or wi-fi areas. We want to bring in something really relaxed and comfortable."