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Hope and Union is and always will be one of my favorite coffee shops in Charleston. Located at 199 St. Phillips Street in a Charleston single home built in 1885, it has rustic character. On a typical day, I usually grab my cup of joe from a Starbucks near my office, which can get boring and unpersonal, so anytime I get up that extra 10 minutes before work, I stop by Hope and Union instead. It's always a treat and something I truly enjoy.
So it saddens me to inform you that this shop, which opened in 2009, will be closing its doors at the end of the month. But there is good news to report, too. Sinan and Liz Aktar (the owners of George Street's The Bagel Shop), are set to open a new coffee shop called The Collective in August, and we can expect to see some H&U influence in the new business. Hope and Union owner John Vergel de Dios has been working with them to develop the identity and interior design of The Collective, and has done consulting work for its coffee program. Another link between H&U and the soon-to-open coffee house? Expect to see some familar faces from Hope and Union at The Collective, including Jessica Jurs, H&U's lead barista and educator who will run the coffee program for the shop.
Here's the scoop from John himself:
So John, why were you forced to leave the location and what will happen to Hope and Union's almost cult following?
The building has been on and off the market since last year, which I saw as an opportunity for my wife and I to own a piece of real estate in a depressed economy. So the original plan was to acquire the building in the third year, but unfortunately, due to personal circumstances, I didn't feel I should pursue it further... and I moved back to New York City.
The building was sold in June and the new owners [had] no intentions to let us stay or renew our lease. They have decided to turn it into a bakery in the near future.
As for our customers who we've had the pleasure of serving and knowing, the coffee culture in Charleston is definitely on the upswing, and I'm sure more specialty shops will open, so the coffee quality will still be there. I truly believe that some of the most prolific and inspiring people in Charleston frequented Hope and Union, and I will miss the interaction with them dearly.
Where will the new store be located, the name, etc.? Will this be Hope and Union 2.0?
The Collective is opening in Mt. Pleasant near I'On in August, where some of the staff from Hope and Union will go. I started helping with the design and the branding of The Collective about four months ago, anticipating what could potentially happen to H&U. I wanted the staff to have a place to take their talents, where the level of attention to detail with the coffees would be the same, if not better. Jessica Jurs, Hope and Union's lead barista and educator, will run the coffee program for The Collective.
What will happen to you? Describe your background and your future in New York.
As for me, I'm currently back in Brooklyn and recently worked on a snowboarding documentary for The North Face and TransWorld Snowboarding with directors Lukas Huffman, Gene Nazarov, and the boys at Milk Studios. I think I'll dive back into the design and advertising scene for a while, take it easy, and try to spend more time with my family and friends in California.
Overall, I wish John the best in his future endeavors and will be checking out his documentary over at Milk Studios. I will miss Hope and Union and hold your shop in my heart everytime I walk by 199 St. Phillip Street.
Photo credit: KATHRYN BARNARD