In the somewhat bucolic town of Evansville, situated along Main Street and right next to a wonderful creek (Allen Creek) sits a new venture for owner Tommy Hanna. While many Madisonians will recognize his name from The Hookah Lounge right off the Beltline, this new venture is a shift in both business and personal needs for Hanna, who, like many of us, finds himself older and with different priorities coming out of the pandemic. Allen Creek CoffeeHouse, which Hanna opened with his brother, is a big shift, with early hours, no alcohol, and a much less frantic pace than his Madison bar.
The converted house, the bottom floor of which used to be an insurance office, has charming curb appeal. From the sidewalk, a rainbow welcome sticker on the bottom of the door stands out at eye level, letting everyone know that this coffee shop is for all. That is intentional, Hanna assures. He has had several people walk in and discover his coffee shop because of this sticker and is frequently thanked for being so visible in this more rural town. Evansville is far from conservative, being a bedroom community for both Madison and Janesville, but open visibility is still somewhat rare here, and Hanna’s customers, who come from all walks of life, seem to feel at ease with this subtle gesture.
But Hanna does not just want people who agree with him and his politics in his shop. With the soft, bright interior, the eye-catching art, large patio, and variety of offerings, he hopes to win over the hearts, minds, and stomachs of Evansville. As the summer progresses, he hopes to host events and music on the patio, which overlooks the shop’s namesake creek, which, despite being right next to Main Street, feels quiet and cozy.
Since opening, he has also added myriad breakfast and lunch options, hoping to catch the customer who just wants a quick, peaceful meal without having to enter a bar or restaurant, which are plentiful a block away. Many customers, Hanna told me, are thankful to have this type of option, and are grateful he’s offering something different in this community.
For those looking for sweets, the CoffeeHouse has a full bakery case, a Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream station, and, as Hanna is Lebanese and wants to add a bit of Middle Eastern flavor, delicious baklava sourced from a famous bakery in Dearborn, Michigan. The coffee, sourced from Rusty Dog Coffee, a roasting company in Madison, is no slouch either. Options for flavors, milk alternatives, and other drinks are as good as anywhere in a larger city, and the latte I ordered did not disappoint.
As more and more options open south of Madison in rural communities, Allen Creek CoffeeHouse is a worthwhile and proud stop. Come in because of the rainbow sign, stay for the coffee and baklava, and come back for the patio.