All that in a bag of beans: Sue’s has new owners

Tiffany Smith and Philip Willis have taken over Sue's Coffee at

Sue’s coffee is taking flight.

Figuratively, that is.

Gilroy’s longtime downtown java venue – Sue’s Coffee Roasting Company at 7501 Monterey St. – has metamorphosed into “Dragonfly on Fifth.”

Formerly owned by Sue Shalit, Sue’s was purchased Jan. 19 by Philip Willis, 35; and his girlfriend Tiffany Smith, 27. The young couple is revamping the coffee house on the corner of Fifth Street with a triple shot of fresh ideas and expanded offerings.

Willis – who helps teach kids Kung Fu at Taiji Dojo downtown – has lived with Smith near Mt. Madonna in Gilroy for three years. The new parents have a 6-month-old son named Sebastian.

“I don’t know what the heck I’m doing,” laughed Willis, who will be getting his feet wet in the food and beverage industry for the first time. “But this is something I’ve been thinking about for a year now. I wanted to be involved, and be a part of the community.”

With their grand re-opening date targeted within the next two months, the couple plans on freshening up the interior of the historic building. It’s been a coffee shop under different owners for the last 25 years. The coffee shop remains open with new, extended hours.

Glancing at the bright orange chairs – an aspect of the décor Willis said reminds him of a high school cafeteria – the burgeoning entrepreneur pointed out he and his partner will liven the ambiance with new floors, seating, paint and lighting. Smith would like to cozy things up with some comfy couches.

Dragonfly is open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays. Willis plans on adding a couple baristas; hopefully one who is bilingual.

“I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do with the place,” said Kim Summers, an employee at Sue’s for two years. “I love working here. I love the people who come in here.”

As for the repertoire of drinks and comestibles, Willis and Smith will continue to roast their beans in-house, but would like to introduce a wider selection of coffee blends and loose-leaf teas. They’re also experimenting with different food recipes for a potential tapas menu.

An emphasis on showcasing local artists and musicians will remain, with a heightened effort on strengthening ties with Gavilan College. Willis just upgraded the building’s WiFi service, and would like to establish a college night.

As Sue’s comes outfitted with a piano, Willis is also considering scheduling open microphone nights.

“I’m open to anything and everything” he said.

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