I remember the first time I went to Ben Avon’s local coffee shop, The Fire Escape. It was just over four years ago, on Halloween of 2009, and I was in the 8th grade. Though, at the time, I wasn’t a big coffee drinker, I remember trying out the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte and loving it. This is my first memory of the Fire Escape, and I, along with many others, have even more interesting, funny, sad, and heartwarming stories about The Fire Escape.
For over four years, the Avonworth community has had a coffee shop right in its front yard—and a darn good one at that. Memories have been made, relationships formed, and good times have been had by many, but, as most things do, the coffee shop has come to a close.
Last Wednesday, April 30th, The Fire Escape said farewell to its faithful customers by celebrating the store’s fantastic run with free coffee all day long.
Fortunately, our coffee cravings didn’t have to go unsatisfied for long as local resident Andy Theobald purchased the store from previous owner, Melanie Holcomb, to convert it into the newly opened Anchor & Anvil Coffee Bar.
“We actually had planned to open a new place,” said Theobold, “and our preference was to open something within the district. But, since The Fire Escape was already here, our plan was to open something in the city. Then, through a mutual friend, we found out that Melanie was interested in possibly selling The Fire Escape. We thought about it, and talked to Melanie, and we were able to work something out.”
The changes from The Fire Escape to Anchor & Anvil are immediately noticeable as soon as you enter. The red walls from before have been repainted different shades of green, and the furniture itself has been rearranged. The Fire Escape was only closed for a couple of days before Anchor & Anvil was ready to start serving coffee.
Mr. Theobald also told me that feedback has been “mostly positive. I would say about 98-99% of it is positive.” When asked about some of the other, less obvious changes to the coffee bar, he said “we’re just starting to sort of change up how we’re doing the coffee. The first thing was to change up the supplier. We’re going to start up some other methods of preparation—some nonstandard sort of drinks. We’re experimenting a little bit.”
Out of curiosity, I asked about the meaning behind the name. Mr. Theobald said “we kept running into conflicts. We’d come up with a name, and someone else would already have it. At one point a friend of ours who was helping us with logo design said ‘well, let’s do something that’s not coffee related. What do you want to do as a design?’ and I said, well we just tried a bunch of ideas and settled on anvil. But Anvil Coffee was already taken. We’re really happy with how the design turned out. It was an Emsworth company that designed the logo.”
Then, like true gentlemen, we shook hands and parted ways, but not until after Mr. Theobald had given me his business card, which reads: “Use this card for unlimited free high fives.”