Extended construction on Court Street Coffee and The Little Professor is expected to come to a close in September following months of renovations.
The two stores sit side by side at 67 and 65 S. Court St., respectively, next to Copeland Hall. Court Street Coffee has been operating since 2009 as a family-owned coffee shop, and The Little Professor is a general bookstore that’s been owned by various owners for about 45 years.
In November 2020, Bryan Wharton and his brother bought the building where the two stores reside. Along with Court Street Coffee and The Little Professor, there are apartments located above the stores in the top part of the building. Wharton said the apartments are where the construction began.
“I just thought it needed a little facelift. So, the apartments inside were needing updated, and so it's just snowballed into the outside,” Wharton said.
Wharton said the construction began at the beginning of May 2021, with a goal of wrapping up by the end of the summer months.
The summer construction project extended into the fall, as Ohio University students began to arrive on campus, due to a hard time getting supplies, Wharton said.
Charlie Fulks, the manager of Court Street Coffee, and Nicholas Polsinelli, the owner of The Little Professor, both expressed gratitude for Wharton in how he has handled the difficult situation for the businesses.
“The building owner has been great. He's been very transparent with everything to the best of his ability,” Fulks said. “It's just the nature of construction. You have a timeline, but it doesn't always get met because, especially right now, supply chain issues and being able to find people to do the work during that timeline is really difficult.”
Fulks said it’s hard to say how much the construction has affected Court Street Coffee’s business.
“It's so many different things that have impacted our business between Starbucks and the construction and the pandemic and students having online classes,” Fulks said. “I would assume that any new students or returning students that are coming back, they don't know if we're open or not … If someone chooses to go to Brenen's or Donkey or Starbucks that first week, often that becomes their coffeehouse of choice.”
Polsinelli said another local business lent it a sandwich board because it wanted to help increase the business’ visibility.
Mary McGuigan, a freshman studying business, walks by Court Street Coffee every day on the way to class and will often stop inside. She said she doesn’t really notice the construction.
“I'm from Cleveland, so there's always construction,” McGuigan said. “I just look past it.”
Ultimately, Polsinelli said renovation is important to The Little Professor, as it doesn’t have much of an online presence, and it hopes it will bring in more business. Court Street Coffee and The Little Professor both look forward to the results of the renovation.
“It's been nice because it opens up, gives us some more space out front as well, so we can increase the outdoor seating,” Fulks said. “We're looking forward to when it's all done. I think it's gonna look really nice and just have a new kind of fresh feel to it.”