Small business owners drawn to Northside neighborhoods


Photo by Lauren Stauffer
Susie Lobdell and Sarah Mendak from California Coffee Bar

By Alyse Horn

Spring has sprung, as well as several small businesses in Northside neighborhoods.

California Coffee Bar, 3619 California Ave., opened in the beginning of March and thus far co-owner Sarah Mendak said “everything has been going really, really well.”

The coffee bar is serving up local food and coffee, with Caruso’s Coffee and Oram’s donuts to name a few. Mendak said she and co-owner Susie Lobdell would like to work with as many local vendors as possible while keeping ingredients fresh and “as healthy as we can.”

Besides the coffee and espresso bar, there are also fresh juices and smoothies available, as well as breakfast and lunch options.

The Java House used to be located where California Coffee Bar is now, and after it closed Mendak said she and others in the community missed the presence of a coffee shop in the neighborhood.

It was Mendak’s mother who suggested that another coffee shop should go in that is what sparked the flame to reinstate a coffee shop in the community.

The coffee shop will be open Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., on Saturdays from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and Sundays from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Mendak said the shop is hiring and to call (412) 766-0444 for more information.

Jeff Geissler and Joe Thornton, the owners of Wagsburgh, 632 E. Ohio St., opened in mid-March and are Northside pet owners have been grateful for their arrival.

“We’ve been doing really well and getting a lot of positive feedback,” Geissler said. “Now people like myself no longer have to dive out to McKnight Road.”

Geissler said he came up with the idea to open a pet store in the Northside after becoming frustrated with having to travel so far for supplies. Geissler said he looked at a few different locations, but nothing seemed right. Then Cody Walters, main street director at the Northside Leadership Conference, showed Geissler and Thornton the East Ohio Street space and “it seemed like the right fit.”

“Coincidentally the building is called the Waag building and we took it as a sign,” Geissler said. “Thus, the name Wagsburgh.”

Geissler said they carry supplies for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and other small animals, noting that the turtle food has been a surprisingly popular item.

The shop is open Tuesday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The store is closed on Monday.

Opening at the end of February, Bear Dog Bicycles, 901 Western Ave., took over the location where Thailand Beauty was located before moving to Federal Street.

Owners Nathan LaValla and Peter Trigg said they’re proud to be contributing to the neighborhood and have received warm welcomes from community members. Bear Dog is a full service repair shop and carries products from Orange Mountain Bikes, Raleigh, Fatback, Diamondback, Burley, Early Rider, and Aero Tech Designs.

LaValla said Bear Dog will be doing events with local businesses over the summer, like Sunday morning coffee rides to Commonplace Coffee, 1501 Buena Vista St., and then throughout the city. For updates on events, check the shops Facebook and Instagram pages.

And if readers were wondering, the name of the shop comes from LaValla’s dog Marley, aka Bear Dog. People stopping by the store should be prepared for a loving welcome from the Yellow Lab and LaValla also encourages others to stop in with their dogs. Treats are kept on standby.

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