Restaurant Notes extra: Utopian Coffee opening coffeehouse on The Landing in former Flashback space

Utopian Coffee plans to expand its coffee roasting operations into a coffeehouse on The Landing.

Utopian Coffee founder Brendon Maxwell tells News-Sentinel.com that the business has outgrown its building at 222 Pearl St., where he has 6-15 employees, depending on the season, who import coffee, roast it, wholesale it and deliver it around the country.

The business has been at its current location since 2014 and will be moving to the Fisher Bros. Paper Co. building where Flashback on The Landing operated, 118 W. Columbia St. The nightclub devoted to classic music closed early last month and plans to reopen this spring as Flashback Live with classic rock and cover bands at 4201 N. Wells St. near Glenbrook Square.

Maxwell, who started Utopian in 2006 with his cousin, Patrick Smith, who later left the business, said, “We were outgrowing this building. We were looking for a space where we could stay in the heart of downtown.”

He sees The Landing project not only as significant for the local area but for northeast Indiana as well.

The $35 million project on the historic block on Columbia Street is being developed by the Cincinnati-based the Model Group, and work is currently going on. The goal is to create trendy shops, restaurants, offices and living space. Utopian will fill one of the spots that the developer wanted: a coffee shop.

The idea for a coffeehouse came out of talks that Maxwell had while looking for a new space, and a friend pointed him toward The Landing. The coffeehouse will allow the business to showcase not only its coffee beans but also the stories of the farmers it works with, including the all-woman co-op in Rwanda, whether it’s through videos, cards or words during the purchase, he said.

Utopian’s website, https://utopiancoffee.com, contains information about the farmers producing the beans that customers are buying. For example, the Winter Blend, $19, says, “Consisting of a perfect joining of the product of two Honduran micro-lot farmers, Abelardo Reyes and Martha Licida Vasquez, this blend has hints of gingerbread and chocolate-covered nuts, resulting in an outstandingly balanced cup.”

As The News-Sentinel reported last August, Maxwell, 34, has been working with a Colombia-based project to turn coca farms into coffee producers. He went last summer to Colombia to tear out the coca trees – from which cocaine can be extracted from the leaves – and burn them and plant coffee trees in their place. Utopia has been working with the project for some time, so beans from farms are already being sold by Utopia.

Have restaurant news? Call Lisa M. Esquivel Long at 260-461-8354, send email to lesquivel@news-sentinel.com or a fax to 260-461-8817 or write Restaurant Notes, C/O The News-Sentinel, PO Box 102, Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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