Filling the void: Rooster’s Coffee Bar

The craft coffee establishment occupies a niche left by America’s corporate giants

Published by Hayden Schultz, Date: December 10, 2023
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The interior décor at Rooster’s Coffee Bar hosts unfinished wood ridden with splits and curves, welded steel beams retaining open studs and incandescent light bulbs draping over a sophisticated, state-of-the-art espresso machine.

The theme boasts contemporary design injected into the legacy architecture featured on Slippery Rock’s Main Street, creating a feeling of modernity, yet offering nostalgia and comfort according to general manager Chelynne Curci-Lang.

“It’s a little eclectic, a little rustic, but has a high end feel to it,” she said.

After years of contemplation and many setbacks from COVID-19 in 2020, Rooster’s Coffee Bar opened in Aug. 2022, touting an assortment of specially sourced coffee and homemade baked goods in its recently renovated building.

“We want to be a place that people feel comfortable in. We might not always remember your name, but we usually know your drink,” the general manager said.

Chelynne Curci-Lang, a Butler, Pa. native, previously worked as an assistant manager at Starbucks, among other jobs in the area including, more notably, the Main Street manager of Butler Downtown. The latter involved a non-profit revitalization project where she met then board member and president of Butler Downtown, Brian McCafferty, and his brother, Bob.

Having a relationship with Curci-Lang for over a decade, the McCafferty brothers contacted her before opening Rooster’s in 2022, knowing her expertise in the service industry and revitalization experiences in Butler.

“We all have a strong sense of community and a desire to be a part of what’s going on,” Curci-Lang said. “We get a lot of donation requests and it’s hard to fulfill all of them, but we try to do what we can.”

Members of the community are reached in town-wide events such as Oktoberfest and Halloween, and more personally in yoga and art classes they host.

According to Curci-Lang, frequenters of the business include a diverse range of tourists, members of the community, remote workers and especially college students.

“It’s fun to be asked to do projects, asking to be interviewed,” said Curci-Lang. “We are open to doing all sorts of things, we’ve had the jazz combo and poetry nights to name a few recent events.”

SRU student and Rooster’s employee Nickolas Beatty said his favorite aspect of working is interacting with the people of Slippery Rock and helping at events Rooster’s take’s part in.

In addition to the community aspects separating Rooster’s from corporate businesses, the joint McCafferty ownership, including Jodi, wife to Bob, harness Curci-Lang’s expertise and their personal love for craft coffee and beer to focus on quality ingredient sourcing.

Rooster’s taps into California founded Josuma Coffee Company’s supply of Malabar Gold Espresso, which boasts more crema and is sweeter than other beans according to Curci-Lang.

Josuma’s website says its creation in the garage of nuclear physicist Dr. Joseph John, the specialty bean harvested from India’s coastal climate allow drinks to include more shots of espresso while retaining an accurate flavor profile.

Rooster’s drip coffee beans originates from Nashville company 8th and Roast, a partner Brian McCafferty accidentally discovered after running a marathon in the city.

They utilize 1883 French syrups, which prioritize natural ingredients including water from the Alps, in combination with sourcing flavorings and teas from Iron Star Roasting in Pittsburgh.

Other than the standard assortment of espresso and cold drip coffees, Rooster’s uses their custom sourced ingredients to create specialty drinks ranging from a seasonal eggnog latte to permanent stays such as the toffee mocha.

Although their specialization is in coffee, food is equally important to Rooster’s.

Working with longtime community baker Phillis, and SRU art major, Emily, a selection of quiches, turnovers, cookies, muffins, bagels, custom pop-tarts and a plethora of other items are on rotation daily.

Ingredients are sourced through partners established within the McCafferty owners’ other ventures, such as North Country Brewery, using combinations of community and regional food sourcing.

Curci-Lang said they are constantly testing new ideas, and not just with coffee and food. Some features to look forward to are a new loyalty program launching Saturday and the addition of extended hours from 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. during finals week.

A majority of the workforce at Rooster’s is composed of SRU students, something that Curci-Lang stated is challenge for scheduling early on in semesters. She said the staff has been amazing, boasting little turnover, something that also adds to familiarity and separation from corporate entities.

Topping off the aspects of community and quality products, Curci-Lang said she looks to hire people who are personable and friendly to set Rooster’s apart.

“We have a really solid staff and they have bonded tightly,” she said. “I can teach anybody to make coffee, but I can’t teach them to be a nice person.”

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