Coffeeshop is all things for the community
By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Keith and Jeanine Walashek struggled to find a one-stop-shop for music, coffee and drinks when they moved to Anthem. After Keith’s father passed away, the duo fulfilled a 6-year-old dream – and filled a niche – by opening Amped Coffee Company.
“My father passed away five years ago,” Keith says. “He owned a ship repair business. When he died, I quit my technology job to run the family business.”
Technology is ever-changing, so it didn’t make sense to return to his job at Sprint after a five-year break. Instead, he and Jeanine founded Amped on June 25, 2018.
“I was 50 years old,” he says. “That is too young to retire. In that industry, five years is a long time. There was no going back to that. The kids were grown up and out of the house. The timing was perfect. We decided to pull the lever and go for it.”
Jeanine adds, “It’s been a wild ride.”
The vibe of the Anthem eatery is welcoming—despite the metal, industrial décor, a homage to Keith’s father’s occupation. Kids camp out in corners where they can do their homework or hang out with friends. Older adults find it just as comforting. The couple, who moved to Anthem from California in 2000, stress to their staff the importance of customer service so guests will feel welcome.
“Anthem has been amazing to us,” Keith says. “We’re in the right place at the right time.”
They believe in supporting local. Coffee is provided by Scottsdale Airpark’s Passport Coffee & Tea, which, Keith calls, the first roasters in Arizona.
“They were roasting before coffee was cool,” Keith says with a laugh.
Amped carries local beers; olives, olive oil and vinaigrette from Queen Creek Olive Mill; and snack nuts and charcuterie boards from Nutsack Foods in Cave Creek.
“We help Arizona businesses as much as possible with our business,” she says. “That’s important to us – keeping the money in the state of Arizona.”
The menu is filled with tasty treats. The bakery has blueberry, cinnamon raisin, plain and onion bagels with cream cheese, while croissant lovers will enjoy the butter, almond and chocolate French pastries. Double chocolate, blueberry and banana nut muffins are offered as well.
For those who want something lighter, there are Caesar and chicken Caesar salads. Grilled pita sandwiches – grilled cheese, ham and cheese, spicy Italian, chicken pesto, roast beef and green chile and Sonoran chicken wraps – are available.
Want something to share at the table? There are mixed olives; chips and salsa; veggies and hummus; pita and hummus; Knight bread; grabbers; tomatoes and burrata; and the Plowman’s platter (meat and cheese board).
The music end of Amped was inspired by their son, Austin, who’s a local musician and the booker at the eatery.
“The music scene is just as important as the rest of the place,” Keith says. “We actively seek out really good talent here in Arizona. Fridays and Saturdays you’ll see higher-caliber singers here.”
Among those were Sophia Humbert, an Anthem singer-songwriter who hosted a concert there recently.
“That was a good night for her,” Keith says. “She’s an Anthem gem.”
In May, Amped is having auditions for its music competition, similar to “American Idol” and “The Voice.” The winner will receive a monthly, paid rotation at the venue.
“Austin, Keith and I wanted to be able to give a new musician an opportunity to play here and what a better way than competition style,” she says. “They can learn and grow as the competition gets bigger and bigger. We give them a reward at the end. A paid gig is what every musician wants, right?”
Amped is all things to the community, too. A 15-person conference room upstairs is frequently rented by Realtors and other businesspersons in the area.
“They use Amped as their office, which is nice,” he says. “We all benefit. They don’t have the rent to pay and they have a nice place to bring their clients.”
All around, the timing was perfect for Amped Coffee Company.
“Restaurants are such a risky endeavor,” he says. “The failure rate is high. With the kids in the house, we didn’t want to take that risk and mess with the dynamics going on. The timing was perfect with them out of the house.”
“Plus, Keith loves beer. I love coffee and we love music. It’s great.”
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