Owner of The Coffee Exchange hopes to rebuild after fire in Pleasant Ridge

Other business owners, community show support

CINCINNATI - The owner of The Coffee Exchange, the popular Pleasant Ridge coffee house destroyed by fire in June, says she hopes to rebuild.

"Everyone described The Coffee Exchange as a ‘Cheers.’ It's the place everyone went," Sarah Peters said Sunday. "It kind of leaves a hole in your heart."

Other business owners and community residents gathered in the Molly Malone’s parking lot Sunday for a fundraiser to support Peters and others who lost so much in the fire.

It’s a tight-knit community, said Share: Cheesebar's owner, Emily Frank.

"They are not just our neighbors, our fellow businesses. They are truly our friends, ” said Frank. “We hang out socially. We spend time with them. It's a family in Pleasant Ridge."

People reflected on the day that changed the neighborhood's landscape.

"It's shocking at first,” Joe Peters, Sarah’s husband, said of the June 7 fire.  “The helpless feeling of seeing the building on fire. There's not much you can do but watch."

Coming together Sunday was “healing for all of us,” said Karla Lalosh, owner of  A Salon Named Desire.  

"People coming together to help other people. What else could you want?” said Cody Clontz, who works in Pleasant Ridge. “That's what we're here for. That's what we're supposed to do."

The event included a silent auction, local vendors and live music.

 "It's a win-win,” said Glenn Wegryn, who lives in Pleasant Ridge.  “It's bringing people out to the community to see what it offers."

Proceeds are going to the Pleasant Ridge Business Association's development corporation.

People there were  hoping to get their “Cheers” back.

 “There's some of us more than others excited about the caffeine coming back,” said Frank.  “I'm having to make it at home and it's not pleasant."  

“I want the Coffee Exchange to return,” said Ethan Ernst, a Pleasant Ridge resident. “We'd always come after school, sit down in the chairs and play some Spot It."  

Sarah Peters was grateful for the support.

“The number of people here today is overwhelming. So many of them I haven’t seen since the last day we were open,” Peters said.

“They put all of this together in a week. It’s amazing. The vendors that came out, the bands. I can’t believe people’s generosity,” she said.

Peters said her decision depends on what the owners of Molly Malone’s do. They owned the building that included the Irish pub and The Coffee Exchange. Molly Malone’s was heavily damaged and hasn’t reopened.

"We hope to rebuild in that space,” Peters said.  “If that doesn't work out, we hope to rebuild somewhere … keep it going somehow."

The good news is The Coffee Exchange is set for a pop-up shop in the Molly Malone’s parking lot on July 4 from 9 a.m. to noon.

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