Live Oak Coffee to Open in April

Jenny Scarborough
Live Oak Coffee to Open in April

Lindsey and Ryan Rhodes will be two of the friendly faces at Live Oak Coffee.

The new coffee house will open around Easter in the Dixon - Williams house across from the Community Square.  "We just want to serve good coffee and get to know people," said Lindsey, who moved from Fresno, California to an island she "didn't even know existed."

Her brother Ryan drove down from Chicago, and finds Ocracoke "beautiful."  "I'd never been here before three days ago," he said earlier this month.   "We know we're new here and trying to respect the flow."  Both have found housing and are already in the habit of riding bikes everywhere.

The coffee house will open at 6 a.m. and serve espresso drinks, drip coffee and single origin pour overs by the cup.  Pour overs "optimize the flavor profile of each cup," said Ryan, who relishes showcasing the complex, delicate flavors of good coffee. 

They source their coffee from major micro-roasters, who directly trade with growers using sustainable practices.  "We want to wholistically serve all the communities touched, to represent the growers well, and show the connections," said Ryan.

Live Oak Coffee will also serve refreshing beverages, like italian sodas, shaken iced teas and lemonade.  "We want to create a space to come in out of the heat and spend time together that is conducive to community forming," said Ryan. 

Siblings Lindsey and Ryan Rhodes are looking forward to their first season on Ocracoke Island.
Siblings Lindsey and Ryan Rhodes are looking forward to their first season on Ocracoke Island.

"It's about people coming together," said Lindsey, who has worked in coffee houses before.  "I might be the first person they talk to in the morning.  It's an opportunity to make someone's day."  Some food will be available as well, but both admit a "lot is still up in the air."

Live Oak Coffee is the vision of Will Lehmann, whose dad, Karl, and step mom, Deanna, bought a home on Ocracoke about 10 years ago.   After finishing his junior year in the business school at UNC, Will will join Lindsey and Ryan to run the new business.  "All three will be working like crazy," said Karl, who helped with start-up capital but said, "They've been driving the boat."

Karl first brought Deanna to Ocracoke in 2000.  That year, they were the only tourists at the Portsmouth Island Homecoming.  They were later married at the lighthouse.  "We went out riding bikes and came across the house we eventually bought," said Deanna.  They continue to visit every couple of months, especially appreciating the friendships they've made with locals.

Deanna's brother married Lindsey and Ryan's sister.  Opening and running Live Oak Coffee will be a "huge adventure" and "great opportunity" for Will, Lindsey and Ryan, said Deanna, who has "full faith" they will provide the service that people deserve.

The move happened quickly for both Lindsey and Ryan.  Both enjoy travel and say the timing was fortuitous.  "Who would not move to an island for the summer to open a coffee shop?" asked Lindsey, who spent the last 5 years in California and has never lived in the south. 

Ryan recently completed his undergraduate degree and worked in city YMCA after school programs with Chicago youth.  "This transition came up at a great time," he said.  Ryan hopes to continue working with kids while on Ocracoke and is looking for ways to "get invested in the community."

"We want to meet people," said Ryan, who after only a few days on the island was seeing familiar faces.  He enjoys how everyone waves at each other.  They hope to host a pre-grand opening event for locals.

Live Oak Coffee employees recognize their shared bond with the Ocracoke Coffee Co. staff.  "We'd love to get to know them," said Ryan.  Lindsey said single origin coffee is "a different product" and hopes the new venue will "balance" the caffeinated flow on the island.

"We absolutely love the coffee shop," said Deanna, who believes "There is enough love to go around."  Live Oak Coffee has a lease on the house through December.

The first season will be a success if the team has fun and doesn't lose money, said Karl. 

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