Gabe Hagen and Jesse Shank with Brick Road Coffee
Brick Road Coffee is a locally LGBTQ+-owned coffee shop located in Tempe, Arizona serving artisanal coffee, pastries, and pizzas. Their name is inspired by the classic film, The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy sets out on a journey of self-discovery only to realize that all one really needs to find themself is self-realization and acceptance.
Co-owners (and husbands) Gabe Hagen and Jesse Shank took the film’s philosophy and made it their mission to accept everyone as they are, no matter where they are on their personal journey.
A great product is important to Gabe and Jesse who took their time selecting the perfect local roaster, CULT Artisan Beverage Company, and pastries brought in by Squarz Bakery in Tempe.
Supporting local was a must. Approachability and authenticity are important for their business as well as serving quality, locally made and sourced coffee, tea, and food items.
Community is just as important as the perfect latte for Gabe and Jesse. Along with their staff, they have cultivated a culture where friends and neighbors, new and old alike can come together and be accepted for who they are. The environment in their coffee shop is unique and inviting.
The focal point in their main seating area is a custom mural by Tempe artist Paige Reesor which depicts how one’s community can truly support them on their journey along the yellow brick road. Another mural located in the hallway leading to gender-neutral restrooms was custom made by Corrie Mattie (or the LA Hope Dealer) as she’s known in Los Angeles.
Gabe and Jesse’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is apparent in other ways as well. They set up a free LGBTQ+ lending library right in their cafe and often run promotions that give back to charities such as Aunt Rita’s and one-n-ten Phoenix.
Supporting local politics and leaders who want to make a change is important to them too. They’ve hosted several “Coffee with a Candidate” events where they’ve teamed up with city leaders to connect with the community they serve.
After moving out of their small Midwestern towns and meeting in Southern California, Gabe and Jesse realized just how much coffee shops are centers of the communities they serve. They are a gathering place for exchanging ideas, coming together in common endeavors, and building networks and relationships.
They left California to pursue careers in finance in Arizona but once the pandemic hit in early 2020, they wanted to do something that made a difference.
Their hope is that the community born at Brick Road Coffee will help elevate their neighbors and make a small yet meaningful impact on their lives.
“I want to be known for how I treat my employees and my community. I want to be known for my coffee, sure, but I want to be known for those two things more. ” – Gabe Hagen
Starting a small business is no easy feat but equipped with business finance experience and a passion to make a difference, Gabe and Jesse opened their doors in early November and slowly expanded their hours and staff to ensure they had everything down to a science ahead of their Grand Opening Event, held Jan. 27 – Jan. 29, 2022.
Complete with an official ribbon-cutting hosted by the Tempe Chamber of Commerce and a raffle held to benefit an organization near and dear to their hearts, one•n•ten Phoenix, they certainly had a lot to celebrate!