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Sherry Summers with a business plan inside the Coffee Bean Cafe on Second Avenue Southeast. She and co-owner Vic, her husband, are preparing for their opening.
Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr.
Sherry Summers with a business plan inside the Coffee Bean Cafe on Second Avenue Southeast. She and co-owner Vic, her husband, are preparing for their opening.

New coffee shop brewing
Katrina blows Coffee
Bean to Decatur

By Eric Fleischauer ˇ 340-2435

Decatur will owe its newest downtown coffee shop to the combination of a Civil War pamphlet and a hurricane.

Coffee Bean Café opens Monday at 324 Second Ave. S.E., Suite B. In addition to fresh-brewed coffee, it will offer sandwiches, muffins and pastries.

The journey Vic and Sherry Summers took toward opening the café began well before Hurricane Katrina devastated their neighborhood in Covington, La.

The two were returning from a trip to Tennessee, Vic Summers explained, and picked up a Civil War Walking Trail pamphlet at the Alabama Welcome Center. They were intrigued, and eventually took a four-day vacation to Decatur.

"We thoroughly enjoyed it, and we fell in love with Decatur," Summers said.

Fast forward a bit to August 2005.


Hurricane Katrina was coming and, rather belatedly, the Summerses realized it was time to evacuate. They searched for a hotel in Louisiana, but other evacuees had filled them. Mississippi and South Alabama: same story.

Then Sherry Summers remembered the wonderful town with the Civil War Walking Trail. In Decatur, she found a hotel room.

They left just in time, and Katrina devastated their neighborhood. Their house remained intact, but the idea of staying overwhelmed them.

"We got tired of living in Hurricane Alley," Vic Summers said.

So as Vic Summers began repairing the Covington house, Sherry Summers rented an apartment in Decatur. One pickup load at a time, her husband brought their possessions north to create a new life.

"The people in Decatur just took care of us," Vic Summers said. "We realized we were in the right place."

New venture

Both were retired — Sherry from nursing and Vic from the Louisiana State Police — and they were ready for a new venture in their new home.

Vic Summers and a friend in Covington had started brewing coffee at their church there, before Katrina.

"We went from two leftover pump pots to more than 100 gallons a weekend," Vic Summers recalled. "It really became a ministry for us. And that, I guess, is how our coffee business began."

Once settled in Decatur, they operated Java Jaay in Priceville. Before long, though, they ran out of space.

"It was a good opportunity for us to learn," Vic Summers said, "but it broke our hearts having to leave our customers, our friends."

They asked Judi Tardy, who owns the Second Avenue building, to let them know if space became available.

It did, and the couple were hard at work Wednesday putting their imprint on the building.

They will celebrate their opening with a coffee tasting Aug. 24, coordinated by the roaster who prepares their coffees.

Coffee Bean will be open from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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