Wm. Van's Coffee House to relocate, new cidery and meadery in the works

Sunday, April 3, will be the last day of operations for Wm. Van’s Coffee House in its current location at 503 S. Seventh St. Lauren Stead, marketing director for Conn’s Hospitality Group, confirmed that the business is “revamping and relocating.”

Stead said, “We are going to be relocating to somewhere within Springfield – the exact location is still under wraps,” but said it would allow for expansion of the popular coffee shop.

She said there was no timeframe yet for reopening in the new location, since it would be subject to “city permits and other things in the works.”

The building that now houses Wm. Van’s was originally located at Seventh and Scarritt streets. It was built in the 1850s by Isaac Lindsey, who borrowed money from Abraham Lincoln to cover the down payment. Springfield Clinic purchased the property in 2008 and planned to demolish the home in order to use the land for a parking lot before the Conn family offered to relocate the building in order to preserve it.

Karen Conn, owner and CEO of Conn’s Hospitality Group, said that relocating Wm. Van’s will allow the Conn family to “focus our efforts on our desire to bring more ciders and meads to the city.” The adjacent restaurant, Obed & Isaac’s Microbrewery and Eatery, serves a variety of craft beers brewed on-site, plus Stiffy’s Hard Cider, produced through an affiliate company.

“Our goal is that we want to open up Springfield’s first cidery and meadery,” Conn said, although she noted plans were still preliminary. “With this economy, we may have to pivot and make changes.”

In 2018, Court and Karen Conn purchased the historic Gillett mansion in Elkhart and renamed the property Elkhart Farm Hill & Vineyard. Conn said, “We’ve planted our own orchard up on the hill: Apples, pears, peaches, cherries. Hopefully within the next two years we’ll start to get product.”

According to Conn, the idea is to be able to produce ciders and meads using fruit grown from the orchard, along with Perry, a drink which can resemble a white wine and uses pears high in tannins grown specifically to make the beverage. However, the new venture will also utilize a variety of other suppliers.

“This isn’t all about the Conns and our brand; we hope to source some great ciders and meads from all over the U.S.,” said Conn.

While Conn emphasized that the project to remap the Wm. Van’s building is still in the early stages, she said, “We’re starting to work out the details of things and the design. We hope to create a whole new image inside the building.”

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