Rising Star closes their doors on Little Italy


Henry Bendon/The Observer

A coffee at the late Rising Star Coffee in Little Italy.

Veronica Madell, Staff Reporter

Coffee is addictive and so are coffee shops. At hearing the news of Rising Star Coffee Roasters, a coffee shop located in Little Italy, moving to a new location in Cleveland Heights, students were upset and heartbroken. All were left asking the question: why? As hard as it is for students to accept, the answer is nothing more nefarious than that the lease is up. According to barista Adam Schell, “The owner just wants to try something new.”

Schell was also able to clear up some questions that patrons may have had about the broken windows in front of the store. Last Wednesday, there was an attempted robbery at the coffee shop. Luckily nothing was stolen, as the alarms scared the perpetrators away.

The coffee shop officially closed its doors on Nov. 4, leaving behind lots of local fans. The week before its closing, the coffee shop experienced unprecedented business. At times, the line stretched out the door and customers were given to-go cups because all the mugs were piled in the sink. All the local Rising Star addicts needed just one last cup of coffee. 

Second-years Greer Donnalley and Tiana Anthony needed more than just one more cup of Rising Star coffee. When they heard Rising Star was closing, they started to go to the coffee shop every other day. Anthony said, “Sadly, I can mark the exact time we found out about Rising Star’s closing from my bank account statement.” But to them, the quality of Rising Star coffee made the $5 coffee better than the $3 coffee elsewhere. In fact, Rising Star’s quality coffee and expert baristas have changed coffee forever for the pair. “Nowhere else tastes the same. I can’t drink Dunkin’ coffee anymore. I just can’t,” Anthony said, shaking her head and savoring the last sip of Promised Land, her favorite Rising Star drink, which contains a double shot of espresso, honey, cinnamon and steamed milk.

For Anthony and Donnalley, their understanding of coffee changed when they took the SAGES course Coffee and Civilization. In this class, they learned everything from the trade and history of coffee to the chemical make-up. In fact, this SAGES course was how Anthony and Donnalley first got introduced to Rising Star. Since that class, Anthony and Donnalley have appreciated coffee much more knowing the history behind it. When the two took a trip abroad this summer, visiting various countries in Asia, they kept a log of every coffee shop they tried in different countries. Rising Star changed their love of coffee into an international appreciation. 

Second-year electrical engineering major Carolina Whitaker’s love for coffee is also international. Her love for coffee started at a young age and comes from her Peruvian mother, who sees coffee as part of her culture. Whitaker remembered her introduction to this culture, reminiscing, “I had my first sip when I was two. My mom gave me a tiny porcelain cup with a tiny sip.” Over the years, this sip has turned into two sips, to half a cup, to a mug of coffee every morning. But for Whitaker, this cup of coffee every day is not only a routine but a ritual. She smiled when she explained this daily ritual, saying, “At home after breakfast, my mom always asks if anyone wants coffee, and then together we would sit and talk about our days.”

Now, away from her family, coffee reminds her of home. Even before coming to Case Western Reserve University, she had created a spreadsheet of coffee places near the university. She had her first visit to Rising Star within the first two weeks of classes her first year. At Rising Star, Whitaker usually orders a café au lait, black coffee with steamed milk. Even though it is not the caramel-infused Peruvian coffee her mom makes, it is close enough, and Rising Star makes it the best.

Whitaker, Anthony and Donnalley are not alone in their disappointment at Rising Star moving. For all Southside coffee addicts, the loss of Rising Star is tragic. Coffee brings people together, and Southside students feel like they are losing one of their best places to come together, study, talk and drink quality coffee. 

But all is not lost. Rising Star is not closing but moving. They will be opening up a new shop soon located at 1975 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. Anthony and Donnalley have already looked into public transportation and committed to going once a month to the new location. “Hey,” Donnalley shrugged, looking on the bright side, “at least my bank account will be happy.”