New Carmel Cafe Is Serving Up More Than a Cup of Joe
Photographer / Amy Payne
Rachel Priddy loved the vibe of coffee shops so much that following the birth of her second baby, she decided to quit her corporate sales job and open a café. She quickly found her dream location on 146th Street in Carmel that included a back patio and drive-thru. Unfortunately, lease negotiations took a long time to work out so, as she waited, she and her husband bought a coffee/food truck and opened Rose & Lois, named after their daughters’ middle names.
Priddy works with several local roasters. For instance, Blue Mind Roasting in Broad Ripple roasts their espresso, they sell drip coffee from Dark Side Roasters in Cicero, and Julian Coffee in Zionsville does their cold brew.
“They won America’s best cold brew at Indy’s Coffee Fest last year,” Priddy says. “People rave about it.”
Priddy also partners with Aahaa Chai, Unplug Soy Candles, Big T (selling their tea), and Taylor’s Bakery (selling their coffee cake). Customers appreciate the creative menu items like the trendy Dalgona whipped coffee and the pistachio latte. New fan Katie describes herself as more of a tea drinker, so she loves that Rose & Lois uses Aahaa Chai in chai tea lattes and iced tea blends, and that they have refreshers in tasty flavors like blood orange coconut.
“After Instagram stalking Rose & Lois for weeks, I finally experienced it for myself. And let’s just say, I see many more return visits in my future,” Katie says. “Rose & Lois is knocking it out of the park.”
Priddy sold her first cup of coffee last May at the Noblesville Farmer’s Market and was looking forward to opening her brick and mortar store this spring but then life happened.
“We got our certificate of occupancy on March 19, the same day the governor issued the closing of dine-in restaurants,” Priddy says. Though she was discouraged, she shifted her perspective and opened the café’s drive-thru only.
“I love that they have been serving customers despite the circumstances [of the pandemic],” Katie says. “The owner and staff are so sweet and taking all the necessary safety precautions during these strange times. It’s easy to go through the drive-thru for a no-contact experience.”
Rose & Lois not only sells delicious drinks but also soups, salads and sandwiches.
“A lot of people in the area don’t realize we have food, but we are the only food option in our plaza right now with lots of great lunch options,” says Priddy, who is constantly tweaking the menu to make it better. For instance, she and her staff have been working on getting kids’ sandwiches and little charcuterie cups to go. They also offer a kids’ caffeine-free line of fruit tea.
“I thrive on doing marketing and product development because that’s in my wheelhouse,” Priddy says. “I’ve thrown myself into this new world and have been drinking from the fire hose, but I’ve been learning so much.”
A self-proclaimed extrovert who loves connecting with people on a daily basis, Priddy admits that running a small business can be challenging. For her, the most difficult thing has been learning that she can’t please everybody.
“Developing a thick skin can be hard because you pour everything you have into it,” she says.
She’s not complaining, however, as feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. “I’ve been surprised by how many people tell us regularly that our drinks taste better than Starbucks,” she adds.
Loyal customer Heather first got hooked on Rose & Lois when she tasted their coffee at the 2019 Noblesville Farmer’s Market. As she’s gotten to know Priddy and her staff, she’s become an even bigger fan.
“Rachel and her staff are beyond friendly. They feel like friends,” says Heather, who also loves the fact that Priddy is rooted in the community and supports local roasters.
“When I was researching opening a café, what I read over and over again was that doing so wasn’t going to make me rich but it would make an impact on my lifestyle,” Priddy says. “That’s what I wanted — to have a place to be involved in our community at a greater level.”
And she certainly has been. Throughout the spring, even when her store wasn’t yet open, Priddy and her staff connected with Feed the Frontlines Carmel, the Rotary Club of Carmel, to deliver meals to frontline workers at St. Vincent. Each meal was sponsored by a local business. In addition, several customers have bought meals for Priddy to donate to the cause.
“It’s been wonderful,” Priddy says.
It’s not the first time she has seen community members step up. Once a customer bought a $500 gift card and told the staff to use it to pay for everybody’s orders until it ran out.
“For a good portion of the day, every single person who came through the line, their order was free,” Priddy says.
Rose & Lois is located at 7249 E. 146th Street, Suite 110 in Carmel. For more information, call 317-597-5118 or visit them online at roseandlois.com.