by Susan Cohen
This summer, Charleston’s caffeinated community was shocked to hear that Hope and Union, downtown’s picturesque coffee shop, the home of mason jar lattes and a fanciful pour-over system, was set to shut its doors. Fortunately, in the almost the same breath as the closing announcement was news that another shop, the Collective, would be opening in Mt. Pleasant in the former Bodacious Bagels spot in the Bi-Lo shopping center off of Johnnie Dodds Boulevard. And there was a promise that many of the same baristas from Hope and Union would appear again east of the Cooper.
Sinan and Liz Aktar, the owners of the Bagel Shop downtown and friends of Hope and Union owner John Vergel de Dios, opened the new shop. “We were looking to expand, but we wanted to do something different,” Liz says. “Because of Hope and Union, my husband became obsessed with coffee.”
Vergel de Dios helped design the new spot, from the interior to the branding, and it’s easily the hippest, most downtown Charleston thing you’ll see in Mt. Pleasant; there’s lots of old wood and Eames-esque plastic chairs, but it’s definitely a darker space than Hope and Union was. Basically, imagine if Hope and Union had a super cool baby with Butcher and Bee. There’s lots of room inside, and a massive community table along with smaller ones at banquette seating lining a wall.
When asked about the coffee program, Liz immediately defers to Jessica Jurs, formerly the lead barista at Hope and Union and now at the Collective. “This is their front of the house and they own it,” Liz says. “The baristas, they’re like a family. It’s easy to work with them because they know what they’re doing.” Jurs admits that the Collective is definitely Hope and Union inspired; walking in, you’ll be instantly reminded of the old shop, and the mason jars and milk bottles are still there. But she promises that it’s not going to be a sequel.
And that’s obvious when she takes me into the Collective’s kitchen, a massive room that’s probably bigger than the entirety of Hope and Union. Jurs promises they’ll be taking full advantage of the space. The Collective’s food menu currently features omelettes, bagel sandwiches, and french toast, and there’s plenty of croissants and other pastries too. Stuart Tracy from Butcher and Bee is helping plan the menu (B&B shares a bakery with the Bagel Shop).
Aktar and Jurs say they hoped the Collective could have opened sooner (they were planning for mid-August or early September), and they’re considering today a soft opening. The coffee menu wasn’t yet on the wall, but a barista will quickly tell you your options for Intellegentsia coffee: any espresso drink, vanilla, mocha, and almond lattes made with house-made syrups, and Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Guatemala coffee from the pour over.
The Collective might not be downtown, but we expect many downtowners will make the trek over the bridge to get there. Head to 766 S. Shelmore Blvd. for your new caffeine fix.