Blackbird Espresso Bar and Bistro showcases art, vegetarian friendly menu

Kate Fechter

With vegetarian and omnivore friendly food, drinks ranging from coffee to alcoholic beverages and local art decorating the walls, Blackbird Espresso Bar and Bistro is the place for students to hang out and relax.

Currently managed by Jayson North and his wife, Lauren, Blackbird has changed hands and names a few times over the years before taking the form it’s in today.

“This coffee shop started as PT’s about fifteen years ago,” said owner Jayson North. “My wife and I met there. PT’s sold it to the previous owner and he renamed it Lola’s. My wife worked here the whole time it was Lola’s. I continued to work for PT’s.”

The Norths bought Lola’s a few years ago. Then after some remodeling and rebranding Lola’s was rechristened Blackbird Espresso Bar and Bistro a little over a year ago.

In the time North and his wife have owned Blackbird they have worked to make changes for the better.

“We tried to expand the food menu,” said North. “We did what a lot of people always say they want to do and make the coffee shop they would like to go to. That’s what we did. We made a vegetarian friendly, hip place to hang out and we serve really good beer to go with really good coffee.”

Blackbird also showcases local artists. Photographer Sara Rogness currently has work on display. North says that local artists interested in possibly displaying a collection should give him a link to be able to view their work online.

Washburn student Mashila Fisher is an employee at Blackbird and enjoys the quality of the products produced as well as the eclectic blend of customers who frequent the coffee shop.

“I like the atmosphere,” said Fisher, junior social work major. “It’s not your normal atmosphere for a coffee shop. Everyone can feel welcome. We are open to all communities and everyone can feel accepted.”

Fisher has been working at Blackbird for about a year and a half. As a vegetarian, she appreciates the menu and its animal-free options.

North says the menu will be changing in the next month or so. Continuing to improve is the way he likes to do business. In addition, he is always on the lookout for a new beer or new artist.

“The way I run business is every day we need to be better at what we’re doing,” said North. “So that’s what we do. When the new menu comes out in a month or so we‘ll make sure it is better than what we have done in the past.”