SHULLSBURG – It’s not everyday that someone gets a second chance or a do over on his or her life but that’s what’s happening at Second Chance Coffee & Music, formerly known as Crooked Canvas Coffee House, located at 203 W. Water Street.
The greater meaning behind the name Second Chance starts when owners Pat Doyle and Shelly Rennert were in high school.
“We were high school sweethearts,” said Pat. “I was the football quarterback and she was a cheerleader.”
They would do the normal couple activities on Friday night but then on Saturday afternoons they would get together and bake cinnamon rolls.
“It was odd but we enjoyed it,” said Shelly.
Everyone thought they would end up getting married. They even thought they would get married. But after high school they went their separate ways, going to college, each thinking the other broke off their relationship.
It wasn’t until 2015, 35 years later, that Pat and Shelly reunited and they realized they were supposed to be together.
“It’s so funny how everything comes full circle. It feels as if no time has passed. It’s seamless,” Pat mentioned.
Pat moved to Madison after living in Woodstock, New York and had plans of moving back to Shullsburg.
One day Shelly called Pat telling him about a fire that happened in downtown Shullsburg.
“All I could think about was hopefully it wasn’t Crooked Canvas because the coffee shop was the heart and soul of downtown,” remembered Pat.
Pat had gotten to know John and Deb Sherman, owners of the Crooked Canvas, through his son, Dylan Doyle because Dylan performed his music in Shullsburg many times.
“The town was missing something with the coffee shop gone,” Pat said.
Pat and Shelly felt it was time for them to make a change in their own lives. They were both unhappy in their jobs, Pat’s in sales and Shelly’s in the healthcare field. They knew the Sherman’s were trying to sell the building and the more and more miserable they became in their jobs, the more and more they knew they needed to buy the building.
“The town really needed it,” Pat said.
They closed on the purchase of the building on July 17 and got to work. Because of the fire that occurred, there was some significant remodeling that needed to be done. Structurally the coffee shop main area was ok but had smoke damage. The wiring in the basement had been destroyed and all of the plumbing had to be redone.
“It was a lot of long hours but we got it done,” Pat said.
They couldn’t have done it without help from both of their families. Pat is touched by the support from Shelly’s family and for stepping up and helping out and for not spilling the beans.
“We did a really good job to keep it a secret,” Shelly said. “Especially in a small town.” They even went as far as to go to the building during early hours so people didn’t see them going in and out of the building.
They were able to purchase the building, do all the renovations; plumbing, electrical and cosmetics, then take five days off to go to Columbia and opened in less than a month.
“Our heart and soul is in this place and we are going to make it go,” Pat said.
Their trip to Columbia was not only for pleasure but also for work. Pat’s daughter lives in Columbia and while visiting her, they purchased several handmade cups and saucer sets that they brought back in suitcases to use as their dishes in the shop.
“It was a lot of fun picking them out,” Shelly said.
They also brought back several handmade jewelry items that have actual flowers pressed into the pendants. The jewelry is sold all over the world but the coffee shop is the only place in the United States that sells them.
Creating this unique and inviting atmosphere is something both Pat and Shelly really want.
“We are trying to create a multi-purpose place here, for people to get coffee and relax and meet to converse,” Pat said.
They have seen people from not just Shullsburg but several of the surrounding area towns.
“We are striving to make the best cup of coffee possible,” Pat said. “But what is driving this business right now is Shelly’s cinnamon rolls.”
After baking together in high school, they now bake together again and have been hearing rave reviews from many customers on Shelly’s baked goods.
“The coffee shop is our driving force but music is our passion,” Pat said.
Coming from Woodstock, New York and the Hudson Valley, Pat understands what a good music scene is and is trying to bring a little bit of that to his hometown.
They plan on having shows on the weekends and an open mic night twice a month. They have already had quite a few shows and have plans for many more in the future.
“We got a little bit of everything,” Pat said.
From a six-piece Jazz band to rockabilly bands, they hope to draw anyone and everyone to Shullsburg.
“Good music is good music,” said Pat.
When they do have a show, there is no admission but there is a suggested donation box. If someone can give more, that’s great but they understand that some people go through hard times and ask they give whatever they are able. No one will be denied entrance. The entire collection of donations goes back to the musicians.
“With my son touring a lot, we see the things he goes through on the road and we want to be a source of good will and treat them right,” Pat said.
With the open mic nights, which are open to all ages, they want to help create a platform for students who want to pursue a career in the arts by providing them the avenue to perform in public.
So after giving the building and their relationship a second chance, Pat and Shelly are excited for their adventure.
“My heart is just so full right now and when you are like that, you attract more people. We love what we are attracting right now,” Pat added.
They are open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Saturday and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sundays. Those hours are subject to change. For more information on their shows, visit their Facebook page to see the events and what artists will be gracing their stage.