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Dash Coffee Roasters is opening a new location in Uptown Marion

Coffee and a game of cribbage are seen at Dash Coffee Roasters’ newest location in Marion, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in the 170-year-old building that was formerly Wit’s End Coffeehouse. . (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Thursday, January 19, 2023 Jan. 19 features a roaster, coffee and a game of cribbage at Dash Coffee Roasters’ newest location in Marion, Iowa. Wit’s End Cafe. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Dash Coffee Roasters owner Rebecca Weinbrenner pours a coffee brew at her company’s newest location in Marion, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in the 170-year-old building that used to be Wit’s End. Cafe. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Jared Edwards of Marion, Iowa, enjoys some coffee while working at the newest location of Dash Coffee Roasters in Marion, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in the 170-year-old building that used to be Wit’s. No more coffee. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Dash Coffee Roasters newest location in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, January 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in the 170-year-old building that was formerly Wit’s End Coffeehouse. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

MARION — About six years ago, the owner of Dash Coffee Roasters announced his new Marion location.

In 2017, while sitting in the 170-year-old building that housed Wit’s End Coffeehouse, he planned the first Dash Coffee Roasters for Kingston Village in Cedar Rapids, which opened later.

“I remember looking around and saying, “One day I want to operate here, or somewhere just like here,” said owner Rebecca Weinbrenner.

Little did he know that in December 2022, he would open another Dash location in that very spot.

The new Uptown Marion opening isn’t the first time the local coffee brand has tried to expand. Dash previously took over Cafe Veritas for a brief stint in 2018, followed by a North Iowa City location that ran from May 2019 to May 2021.

The first returned to Cafe Veritas, which is still open today. The latter was bought by former employees of Dash and turned into Tru Coffee in 2021.

But the new site is Dash’s first attempt at expansion since taking over the business as a sole proprietor more than a year ago. After opening its flagship location before the growth of Kingston Village, the new December opening is its first foray into Marion.

As Uptown Marion completes revitalization plans and sees an influx of restaurants and businesses, the new coffee shop lineup adds even more appeal to the many reasons to visit uptown. The owner said many of Dash’s regulars have moved to Mario’s over the past five years, representing an already established customer base.

“It’s nice to be a part of it and add to the culture of what’s going on. … We’ve been through a lot of changes, but Cedar Rapids has always been the center of our home,” Weinbrenner said. “Because Marion is an arm of Cedar Rapids with such interconnected communities, expansion has always been in sight.”

If you go

What? Dash Coffee Roasters
Where? 630 10th St., Marion
Hours: Monday through Friday 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 8 am to 2 pm; closed sunday
Website: dashcoffeeroasters.com

The menu

Inside Marion, Dash carries its coffee and espresso menu from Cedar Rapids, in addition to homemade pastries.

With a smaller footprint, the Marion location hasn’t duplicated the more extensive breakfast and lunch menu found at its Cedar Rapids location.

Emphasizing traditional coffee drinks, Dash offers house-made syrups and rotating favorites. Coffee drinkers will find a slightly different philosophy behind their roast, which is also made in-house.

With all single-origin beans, Dash does not roast coffee on a light-to-dark spectrum, but rather in a conventional manner that brings out the characteristic fruit accents of each bean.

“We’re bringing out the flavor we can,” Weinbrenner said.

Coffee comes from many countries, but local coffee drinkers have a strong preference for Guatemalan and Ethiopian roasts.

Creation of space

Inside the 170-year-old building, which has been restored after extensive damage, there are several rooms with a collection of used furniture and board games that match the aura of the old house.

“I love being in a place that is literally home,” Weinbrenner said. “This started as someone’s house. It brings that feeling into coffee.”

After living in Chicago for several years, the Williamsburg native and Mount Mercy University graduate moved back to his hometown. Unable to settle after living in the big city, Cedar Rapids was the kind of town where he felt most at home.

After finding her home, she hopes the expansion will help others find solace in a space where they also feel visible.

“When we train our staff, we train them to care more about people than coffee. Their job is to take care of people,” Weinbrenner said. “We live in a world behind many screens. We always joke that we are daytime bartenders. we want to know your story and be a part of your life.”

After settling in Cedar Rapids nine years ago, he continued to work in the food industry, which he had worked in for most of his life, to give himself time to define the direction he wanted to go. After working at several coffee shops in the Coralville and Iowa City areas, he fell in love with the people and community built in coffee shops, where bar banter happens at 6 a.m. instead of 6 p.m.

“I fell in love not so much with the coffee as with the community,” he said. “It’s about building community, and I do that through coffee because there’s no better way to sit down and bond with someone than over a cup of coffee.”

The dash is named for the punctuation mark that appears on tombstones between the year of birth and the year of death. For him, it represents his own passions in life and what they have done with them.

“For us, this is how we fill our dash,” he said. “This is what we live our lives for, to create space for people.”

Although running a food-based business has become more challenging since 2017, he said the space he built in Cedar Rapids has helped keep the business running thin and thin.

For the owner and his staff, daring to do this in Marion is a new privilege.

“People (go) where they feel valued,” Weinbrenner said. “We delve into people’s lives so they have a reason to delve into our lives.”

Art created by customers is displayed on a gallery at the newest location of Dash Coffee Roasters in Marion, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in a 170-year-old building that was formerly. Wit’s End Cafe. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Dash Coffee Roasters offers customers board games to play as well as art squares for customers to make and display their art and doodles at the company’s newest location in Marion, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location in Uptown Marion has opened in the 170-year-old building that formerly housed Wit’s End Coffeehouse. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Eclectic tables are seen at Dash Coffee Roasters’ newest location in Marion, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023. The new location in Uptown Marion opened in the 170-year-old building that was formerly Wit’s End Coffeehouse. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Dash Coffee Roasters newest location in Marion, Iowa on Thursday, January 19, 2023. The new location opened in Uptown Marion in the 170-year-old building that was formerly Wit’s End Coffeehouse. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

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