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Woman Tires of Owning Bar, Turns it Into Coffee Shop

Joy Siermann waited in the hospital as her sister had half of her lung removed as part of an ongoing battle with cancer. When the surgery was over, Siermann left knowing she wanted to do something different with her life.

Since 1989, Siermann owned and operated Joy's Corner Pub at 402 Bakewell Street in Covington. Tired after a dozen years of running a bar, she placed the building on the market last year. When no buyers came biting, Siermann reflected and saw the opportunity to do something new with her life right in the same place where she had spent the previous decade and some change.

Joy's Corner Pub would become Monkey Brew, a coffee shop with a craft store inside.

At midnight on November 30, Siermann locked the doors at Joy's one last time and on Monday morning reopens them to the public as Monkey Brew. The Newport resident and Bracken County native is anxious for new customers to see what the old space has to offer, even if she is a little green when it comes to the coffee business.

"I'm not afraid to take on this," she said. "I have no idea how to run a coffee shop but I work hard and do the best I can." 

That might sound like a crazy business model, but it's worked for Siermann before. In 1989, she was working in an office environment and cracked a joke to her friend who owned the bar space that maybe she'd just buy it. One week later, Siermann had the keys. 

Two years later, she bought the entire building and got the keys to the three two-bedroom apartment buildings above Joy's Corner Pub.

"I worked in here the first day as a bartender and as a landlord with no fear," she said.

The past two-and-a-half months have been devoted to erasing Joy's and to creating Monkey Brew. The place has been re-painted, the bar is re-finished, a small kitchen was installed, and a retail section featuring Kentucky craft makers was installed. Siermann interested several of her creative friends to sell their wares and some will even work out of the space on occasion.

She added new track lighting, electricity to the bar for laptop computers, and offers free wi-fi to guests. Zumba classes will be taught in the backroom. 

Nestled at the intersection of Bakewell and busy Fourth Street where thousands of commuters bolt toward the Interstate every day, Siermann is optimistic that the new concept for the space will work.

"The economy worries me but I get up every day and take each day as I can," she said.

Soon, in addition to coffee drinks, Siermann will bake her own products in the newly installed kitchen. She's particularly excited about creating breakfast muffins with traditional morning meats and cheeses baked inside a muffin.

Like many new businesses, Siermann is offering a special promotion with the launch. Whoever buys the one hundredth cup of coffee will get store credit worth $45.78.

Why the strange prize amount?

Numbers play a significant role in Siermann's life and she sees certain numbers everywhere, in good times and bad. 4, 5, 7, 8. Siermann was born on May 8, 1957 (5/8/5/7), her father died on May 8 (5/8), her mother died on May 4 (5/4). When her sister was in the hospital, sick, the sequence appeared in her room number. Siermann rattles off several more examples of why the numbers mean something to her life.

The numbers will be important to the one hundredth customer, too. More than $45 could go a long way toward a coffee drinker's monthly bill.

Location: 402 Bakewell Street, Covington

Hours: 6:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Saturday, closed Sunday

Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher of The River City News

Photos: Monkey Brew/RCN