Joe's Addiction coffeehouse community moves into new home
For a year and a half, Joe's Addiction was without a building.
Patrons of the beloved coffeehouse gathered outdoors instead.
Jamie Zumwalt, who owns the nonprofit Christian ministry with her husband John, provided lunch on a daily basis, rain or shine, and the shop's regulars came together for food and fellowship.
Zumwalt, the lead pastor of Joe's Addiction, fed them baked potatoes and soup, tuna salad and mandarin oranges, macaroni and cheese and cut up hot dogs — simple fare. And when the crowd swelled beyond what she had, she dashed to her car to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from an emergency stash.
What mattered was that they all stuck together.
Now the coffeehouse community has found a new home.
The new shop at 1725 SE 59 is bigger and better and just across the street from its former location.
Zumwalt and the coffeehouse community will celebrate with a grand opening set for 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
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"It feels amazing to finally be in this space," she said.
Jimmie "Cajun" O'Quinn, one of the coffee shop's loyal patrons, said the new place is so much better than the other.
O'Quinn, who is homeless, likes the larger building, the free shower and washer and dryer that he and others may use if needed.
Most of all, the Louisiana native is happy that the community will have a roof over its head once again.
"It took awhile. It was just a long process so this is a blessing," he said.
"It's starting to feel a little like home like it was across the street — except it's bigger."
The long journey home
John and Jamie Zumwalt initially opened the coffee shop in 2007 in a building at 1806 SE 59 in the City of Valley Brook.
The former missionaries welcomed people of all backgrounds, including many homeless, impoverished people in the surrounding area. Customers were encouraged to pay what they could for a cup of coffee and if they had no money, the drink was free.
The couple found themselves at odds with some Valley Brook residents because the coffee establishment didn't turn away people who had mental health or substance abuse struggles or those with troubled pasts. Some residents were particularly hostile when they learned that convicted sex offenders from a nearby ministry were allowed to frequent Joe's Addiction.
Eventually, the coffee shop became better known as a community haven and a positive for the area than anything else. Then the City of Valley Brook purchased the Joe's Addiction building and gave the Zumwalts an opportunity to find another place. After about three years, the couple found another building but they were met with opposition from people who lived nearby.
In June 2019, Joe's Addiction became homeless and Jamie Zumwalt vowed to keep the community's group of regulars like O'Quinn and David Green together until a new location could be found.
She said money had to be raised to get a new building. When the new location within the Oklahoma City city limits was found just across SE 59, there was lots of work to be done to it and that required money.
In December 2019, the project was at a standstill due to lack of funds.
Zumwalt said their fortunes changed when two men donated $40,000 after reading about the ministry's plight in a story in The Oklahoman on Christmas Day.
With the donation, the project took off, only to be halted a few more times over one thing or another.
"There were so many delays leading up to COVID and then COVID came," she said.
Some supplies got stuck at the Mexican border. Then the electrician working on the project contracted COVID-19. Problems also arose when civil engineers determined that the property measurements weren't quite right.
"It was just one thing after the other until we got everything approved," Zumwalt said.
More room and extras
The new Joe's Addiction has a large open space where tables have been set up. Zumwalt said it also includes a classroom where community members may gather for different meetings, a large kitchen, bathrooms with showers, a utility room with washers and dryers and a Free Store where customers can take what they need and leave what they can for someone else to enjoy.
"The whole idea is to share what we have with each other," she said.
On a recent afternoon, people gathered around the coffee bar for lunch. Coffeehouse regular Green said a brief prayer over the free meal and people either ate at the bar, sat at tables or went outside to eat on the newly landscaped lawn.
"We wanted it to not feel institutional. We wanted it to feel like it was home," Zumwalt said.
Volunteer barista Mandy Killinger said they succeeded.
"I think it's a wonderful place," she said.
The coffeehouse atmosphere was inviting, with colorful murals on the wall painted by John Zumwalt. The murals featured images and quotes of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, St. Francis of Assisi, Mahatma Gandhi and Dorothy Day. Jesus is featured prominently on one wall.
Zumwalt said the art work on the coffeehouse walls was patterned after Catholic churches that feature images of Catholic saints.
"We wanted to put our saints on the wall, people who we follow their teachings. They are from different faiths and different backgrounds but they are leading us all in the right direction," she said.
Two murals stood out, if only because they featured people whose names are not recognizable to the casual observer.
Zumwalt said one of the people is Sam "Bo" Harp, a man who was shot during gang violence. She said he lived several years after the shooting and began to visit Joe's Addiction on a regular basis, eventually getting a heart tattoo like Zumwalt and many of the coffeehouse regulars, signifying his decision to follow the ministry's way of love and peace.
Zumwalt said he succumbed to complications stemming from the gunshot wound.
The other mural depicts longtime coffeehouse regular Judy Mertes, who operated the shop's Free Store at the former building.
The older woman lived near the old Joe's Addiction location and she allowed the ministry community to meet in her back yard each day for the lunches provided by Zumwalt.
Sadly, Mertes died in February and Zumwalt said she thinks the shy, friendly woman may have been a victim of COVID-19. Zumwalt said Mertes began having serious respiratory problems and was transported to a local hospital. She was placed on a ventilator but ultimately passed away.
Zumwalt said it's important for the coffeehouse community to remember their loved ones who walked alongside them on their life's journey.
Meanwhile, O'Quinn said he's glad that there are many of the coffeehouse's regulars who are able to experience Joe's Addiction's new home. He said the shop still lives up to its mission as a ministry that offers help and hope along with a cup of joe.
O'Quinn said this is important for homeless people like him or those who have experienced homelessness. It's a haven for people who depend on the establishment's free lunches and those who need the aid, advice and spiritual support of the Zumwalts and the ministry's other volunteers.
"It's just like a family, just like 'Cheers' — everybody knows your name," he said.
"We have our moments but like I said, it's like a big family."
Joe's Addiction grand opening
When: 4 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10.
Where: 1725 SE 59.