SoCo will have seating for 100 on the patio.

SoCo Coffee House began as, well, a coffee house at Lakeridge in 2019, but neighbors fell in love with the cozy booths near sunny windows, fluffy lemon blueberry muffins and rich coffee blends. Owners Jonny Bean and Charles Bader gradually added to their brunch and lunch menus and, before long, SoCo’s loyal followers were asking, “What’s for dinner?”

SoCo is taking in the adjoining space north of their current location, doubling their footprint and permitting visitors to enjoy an evening bistro vibe.

“The new side will be tailored to our dinner customers,” says Bean. “We’ll have low lighting and bar seating, and we’ll focus on our adult visitors. The (brighter south side) will be focused on families. The response we’ve gotten from people is, “We don’t mind that. If we’re going to come out and spend money, we don’t want to hear a baby. That’s why we’re getting out. We’re getting away from that.”

Seating on the expanded patio will also double, with room for about 100 diners outside.

Bean is stoked about the project – wood, tile and lighting have been carefully selected, and plush banquette seating will create an intimate feel –but sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference behind the scenes.

“It will be exciting to have a back door, finally. We can actually take out the garbage without going through the Taco Bell drive through,” he laughs.

Enthusiasm about the expansion doesn’t mean it’s gone off without a hitch. Supply chain issues have been a challenge during construction, and city permitting has taken longer than expected.

“Doing (the existing) side was a cakewalk compared to (the new) side. Between COVID and the city, it’s been way harder this time around. Every time we call city hall, it’s the first time they’ve heard about it. It’s like they have no idea what we’re talking about. It’s very frustrating.”

Hiring new employees has also been difficult, as hospitality workers moved out of the industry during the pandemic – and never came back.

“Those of us in the restaurant business keep wondering where everybody went. A bunch of people must have gone to work in the warehouse industry, because we keep seeing resumes that say: restaurant, restaurant, warehouse, warehouse.”

The new side of SoCo will open at 7 a.m., just like the original half, and “last call” for ordering will be at 9 p.m. (Diners can stay until they finish well past 10.) The dinner menu will have more of a “date night” flair than current favorites like chicken and waffle sliders, peanut butter French toast and Huevos Rancheros, and the bar will offer wine, craft beers and specialty cocktails. Bean is shooting for a mid-June opening.

SoCo Coffee House is adding the space next door.