Christopher and Angie Pyle
Would you like some community with that cappucino?
By Liz Jones
Two Ohio University graduates have returned to Athens to bring college students and the community together over a cup of coffee.
Christopher Pyle, BSC '93, and his wife, Angie Clement Pyle, BSED '93, opened The Donkey Coffee & Espresso on West Washington Street in June 2002. Serving hot and cold drinks and locally made pastries, the coffeehouse was an immediate success.
"I really appreciate the atmosphere," says Kate Berk, a frequent patron. "The staff is so friendly and welcoming; sometimes it's hard to leave."
As the business enters its third year, the couple is thankful for the reception they've received.
"People tell us we're lucky because we're breaking even," says Angie, who, like her husband, also has another part-time job. The two now have another addition on their hands: In May, they adopted a baby boy, Oliver.
Uptown Athens wasn't lacking a coffee house; Perks, Brenen's and The Front Room provide plenty of caffeine for the area.
"It wasn't about the coffee, it was about the community," Chris says. "We wanted to stimulate the community, so we brought in the coffee."
Chris and Angie have a unique way of involving the community: A "justice table" sits in the middle room of the coffee house with information about local and international nonprofit organizations.
"By providing a meeting place, we hope community members will gather to address Athens' needs," Chris says, referring to the poverty levels in the county. According to the 2000 U.S. Census, 24.7 percent of individuals in Athens County are living in poverty.
Live entertainment is another attractive feature at The Donkey. Local artists display their work, and bands perform on a stage in the back room. On Tuesday nights, The Donkey features "Designated Space," which encourages people to express themselves through stories, raps, poetry and other forms of the spoken word.
"This was an 8-, 9-, 10-year idea in the works," he adds. "Now it's the community's turn to step in and take some action."
Liz Jones, BSJ ’04, is a former student writer for University Communications and Marketing