Just Like Home

Living Room Coffee House hosts young musicians, locally named sandwiches

Hannah Vick, photos by Drew Kaiser |

Ron Lovelien wants you to feel at home.

When he converted an abandoned alternator shop into the Living Room Coffee House last fall, Ron wanted to create a space that felt comfortable to everyone. Somewhere you could get a good cup of coffee, maybe sit outside and enjoy the weather, and just relax. “I wanted to create a place like Cheers,” he said, “only, you know, it’s not a bar. It’s a coffee shop.”

It looks like he succeeded. On a Friday mid-morning, there was a steady stream of customers, many of whom were greeted by name. A thirty-something was tapping away at his laptop (the coffee house offers free wi-fi), an older couple chatted over a jumbo muffin and, in the corner, a small child wearing a helmet hummed quietly to himself.

“We have a pretty good mix of people ... it changes by the hour,” Ron said. “We’re trying to create a different feel here, where you feel like a part of the family.”

And really, you can’t help but feel a part of the Lovelien tribe when you’re there. As a lifelong West Side resident, Ron named all ten sandwich offerings after Eau Claire streets; There’s the Folsom Street (steak strips, Asiago cheese and ranch sauce) in honor of where he grew up and The Mead Street (Ham, Havarti cheese and dill pickle), where he and his wife lived when they first got married. A family portrait, with Brett Favre lovingly photoshopped into the background, hangs prominently next to the door.

The drinks are standard coffeehouse fare, without all “that crazy coffee house slang.” I had an iced caramel macchiato (it’s like drinking a candy bar), Ron declared his love of their dark roast, and there was much praising of the fruit tea smoothies by his children. But, the coffee is only part of the Living Room experience. When Ron says he wants to make everyone comfortable, that includes the singer/songwriters featured every Thursday night.

“We can provide a place (for our performers) where they can learn their craft, get better ... maybe make mistakes in front of family and friends, and then move on to bigger and better things,” Ron said. On nice days, music will be hosted outdoors in a park-like setting behind the shop. And, as if you needed another incentive, Thursday night is $1 latte night.

So, buy a cup of coffee, pull up a chair, enjoy the backyard. The Living Room Coffee House looks like it could be the next place you call home.

Open Monday-Saturdays, 7am-9pm; Sundays, 9am-2pm. 831-0245.