Shay: “I loved Shawn’s family five years before I met him. I managed a restaurant in downtown Mobile when Shawn’s brother-in-law would come in. I hired both of his nieces to work for me. I also adored Shawn’s sister, Shannon. They were the best family, and I would ask if their parents needed another daughter. I was going to find a way in with them. I knew nothing about Shawn.”
Shawn: “I was living in Arizona at that time. My sister, Shannon, was trying to get me to come home and help her finish the building they bought at the four-way stop in Marlow, close to Fish River. It was good timing because I was ready to leave Arizona. I was single and asked Shannon to introduce me to one of her friends so I could start writing and talking to someone before I moved. She and my nieces connected me with Shay. I wrote to Shay, and she called me on July 4, 2018. We married three years later on July 4, 2021. My family is still proud of setting us up—they say they loved Shay first. My nieces called her Aunt Shay before I was in the picture.
We worked ourselves to the bone and finally got the building ready. My sister turned half of the building into a salon, and someone looked at the other half for a coffee shop. It wasn’t right for them, but Shay and I took that idea and ran with it. We opened SnS coffee shop 33 days ago; it stands for Shawn and Shay. I promised Shay I would build her a business; now she’s the boss and the baddest barista around. God gave me a woman who isn’t just good with me, she is good with others.”
Shay: “I have worked with food and in restaurants for a long time. After we got married, I was waitressing at the Cracker Barrel. Shawn started there as a dishwasher and became a cook within a couple of weeks. I am also a first-class painter, and we were doing painting jobs on the weekends when we got the idea for the coffee shop. We knew about construction and food, but we had no idea about making coffee. We started watching videos on YouTube and figured it out. We are always ready to work hard and learn.
There was a lot of nervousness and anxiety the night before we opened, then it was crickets on the first day. No one came. We knew the first days would be rough, but what have we done? We put up our small signs and people started coming in. We had to replace our small refrigerator and make more milk runs. Word of mouth helps our traffic get better every day. We want to grow to the point where we have to hire people. The best part is we’re like therapists as well as baristas. Behind this counter, we hear so many stories from all kinds of people.”
Shawn: “Everyone is welcome in this coffee shop because I am the last person to judge anyone. I was addicted to drugs and alcohol, and my life could have only gone two ways. I finally got tired of being a piece of shit and turned my life around. I have been sober for ten years. Playing music and making art has helped me work through it. Some of my art is around the coffee shop.
This is a great location between Foley and Fairhope and we never know who will walk in the door. We get the young kids and the older crowd. Folks driving BMWs, Mercedes, trucks or lawn mowers come in here and talk and hang out. Some people share memories of when this building was a market. It’s where they smoked their first cigarette or stole their first beer.
It still hasn’t hit us that we own our own business. One night, we went to Big Daddy’s restaurant after work. We were still wearing our coffee shirts and overheard someone at the next table tell the others at their table that SnS Coffee was good. It was crazy to hear strangers talk about something we made. We were so happy.”