The community of Gothenburg is definitely on the move, and that is evidenced by how often we are announcing either a new business or expansion to an existing business in our town. This week we are pleased to welcome Stories to the downtown business district, and the Leader sat down with owner Ashley Groene to get the scoop.

“I feel like this has been in my mind and on my heart for a long time, like longer than I even realized. When this space became available and I started thinking about coffee shops, all of these ideas just started pouring out of me that had been brewing for a long time,” Groene explained.

Good ideas aren’t the only thing brewing at Stories - you can also get a great cup of coffee there. Located in the former home of Charm, the interior of the space has been redesigned to give the feel of a welcoming coffee shop - a place to gather with friends or just enjoy a relaxing “time out” from your workday. Most likely, the minute you walk in the door you are going to want to grab a spot and stay awhile.

“I have always loved to read. I grew up with my dad reading to me and I’ve always been interested in reading and getting my hands on stories,” Groene said as she explained the inspiration for the name and the decor of the coffee shop.

Groene has been a registered nurse for 20 years, and after losing her husband Ryan in 2016 she decided to take a step back from that career for a while to raise her kids. She kept working enough to maintain her nursing license; however, she said she no longer felt as fulfilled in that job as she once did.

“I started thinking about what it was I loved about nursing and it was definitely connecting with people. I know that I love to go to a coffee shop or a library, someplace where you can just feel comfortable just coming as you are to relax and hang out, and that is what I wanted. That’s where it all started,” Groene explained.

Several separate seating areas create inviting atmospheres for guests. There is a living room area at the back of the room complete with a fireplace and an old record player. “I do have some old records, and a lot of people probably have some laying around their house with no way to listen to them. They are welcome to bring those in and listen.” There is also a book shelf stocked with books. “If people want to bring in a book and take a book they can do that,” she added.

Stories will feature coffee, smoothies, Italian sodas - basic coffee bar drink items - as well as a few baked goods. The space is also available to rent as a small event venue such as bridal showers and cocktail parties. “It’s just a mix and mingle atmosphere with casual seating,” said Groene. For larger parties she has access to an outdoor space to set up tables which will allow for larger groups.

Groene will offer a small catering menu and is also working on getting a liquor license. She also allows people to hire an outside caterer or even bring in their own food. She will also provide her coffee drinks at a discounted price for parties or groups. The indoor space can accommodate up to 40 people comfortably, and the outdoor space can add up to an additional 150 people.

“Something I am going to make signature to Stories is charcuterie boards - your traditional boards with meats and cheeses, nuts, jams, spreads and that kind of thing. People seem to really be interested in those,” she said. She also plans to eventually add different special items.

Groene said once she gets her liquor license she would like to add a wine night one or two nights a week, offering a few wines and select cocktails with a special appetizer each week. “It would be perfect for a girls night out or to just meet your husband after work for a drink,” she said.

Small gift items will also be available at Stories through a company called Global Hues Market. “Everything is ethically sourced through fair trade from impoverished countries,” she explained. “So everything I sell will have a story behind it too.”

While her love of reading was part of the inspiration for the name of her coffee shop it was not all of it. “My belief is that everyone has a story, we all have a story within us. And by sharing your stories it brings connection and belonging in people and makes them feel less alone,” she explained. “It just provides a different perspective of understanding people. If we had a chance to really look at someone and hear their story we would just be a more loving and accepting world. I just want a place where people can come in and feel accepted. That’s how I want to live my life. I believe God is our storyteller and this is just part of my story.”

Stories will be open Monday - Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. At this time she is reserving Saturdays and evenings for parties.

Contact Ellen Mortensen at ellen@gothenburgleader.com or call 308.537.9498