ORIGINALLY WRITTEN TOM STOPPEL
Traveling to either coast of the United States can be an expensive and arduous journey, but often you’re rewarded with opportunities that aren’t available in Hillsboro.
Thanks to Marisa Root, a 10-month resident of Lehigh, a new business will offer a “perk” of coastal amenities to downtown Hillsboro.
Root is working toward a mid-August opening of “Little Pleasures,” a coffeehouse that will be located in the north half of the building now occupied by “Lagniappe,” which is owned by Terri Allen and formerly housed Kitchen Korner.
“I don’t know whether I saw the need for this place or whether the need saw me,” Root said. “I walked into Lagnaippe and saw the space that wasn’t being utilized, and I just pictured a coffeehouse.
“I’ve wanted to do something like this for quite some time, and when I saw this, I guess I kind of had a vision.”
Root and her husband, Monty, moved to Lehigh about 10 months ago after spending time overseas.
“My husband was offered a job in Wichita as a program manager for Raytheon,” Root said about their move to Marion County. “We didn’t want to live in Wichita and just happened to drive by Lehigh and saw it was a little, quaint and cute town that had Hillsboro right down the road.”
Root said the name for her coffeehouse was the result of browsing through cookbooks.
“I was looking at cookie recipes and it said something about cookies being a little pleasure, and I thought that would be a good name for my coffeehouse.”
Root, who was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii, plans to instill some island paradise into downtown Hillsboro through not only the items served at Little Pleasures, but also the decor.
“I hope to decorate Little Pleasures to show my personality,” Root said. “I’ll have a few island things, but I won’t have just one theme. I want the place to look and feel comfortable.”
Root said her coffeehouse will incorporate a large selection of beverages, but not to the point of overwhelming her patrons with too many choices.
“If people come in and say they want something cold in a particular flavor, or something sweet or with a heavy chocolate flavor, my drinks will be tailored to what people want when they come in on that particular visit,” she said. “I’ll ask what you’re in the mood for and give you exactly that.”
Root said she’ll have a cappuccino machine along with espresso, lattes and some recipes that she has created.
“There will be variations of cappuccino,” she said. “But for those that don’t want anything fancy, good old black coffee with cream and sugar will also be available.”
Hot coffee sounds tempting during fall, winter and spring, but what about the hot months of summer?
“We’ll have frozen cappuccino this summer and iced coffee is also always a refresher,” she said. “People either love coffee or they don’t like it at all-and for those people I’ll have other drinks.
“I’ll have something similar to a Smoothie, but it’ll be a cold beverage something like an Orange Julius.”
Root’s plans don’t include diabetic drinks yet, but she said her customers will determine to a large extent what will be available.
“It just depends on what the customers need.”
Root said she’ll also have a line of items to eat that complement the beverages.
“The foods I’ll have will be typical of a coffeehouse,” she said.
“We’ll have chocolate chip cookies, and of course mine will have macadamia nuts,” she added, in reference to her Hawaiian background. “We’ll also have peanut butter cookies and cheesecake bars along with other little pleasures.
“On different days of the week will feature different items, but I’ll always have the staple items.”
Root said she has a house specialty that she’s still working on, but she’s confident it will be perfected by opening day.
“It will be a thin wafer of a cookie that’s blondish in color like a typical sugar cookie,” she said. “It’ll have a thin layer of chocolate on it and then another thin layer of cookie that will fit right over your coffee mug.
“The heat from the coffee will warm the cookie and when you bite into it, it’ll be a little bit gooey with the melted chocolate.”
Root hasn’t named her creation yet, but said it likely will be “something Hawaiian or island-ish.”
Root doesn’t plan to target any specific age group with her menu. Instead, she hopes people of all ages will be find something that keeps them coming back.
“I’ll have cookies on a stick for the kids and I’ll have juices also,” she said.
Root also hopes to attract high school- and college-age students.
“I’ve asked several students what they’d like this place to have for them to feel comfortable.”
One thing she discovered students would like is a place to relax in the evenings.
“I plan to look at whatever is happening in Hillsboro and try to be available, like after ball games and things like that.”
Root also has plans to open for special group needs, such as bible studies or parties, for a minimal charge.
“I’ll ask what things people need and tailor the items especially for their event,” she said.
Root said her roots in cooking stem back to her days of raising her family.
“I’ve been baking cookies for many, many years,” she said. “Just being a mom around the house and being a room mom at school gave me a lot of experience.”
Root has three grown children scattered across the United States in Hawaii, South Carolina and California and looks forward to the impending arrival of her first grandchild.
Not too long after the coffeehouse opens, Root hopes to expand her menu to include light lunches.
“I’ll incorporate a lot of good family recipes into my coffeehouse,” she said. “My grandmother baked a lot, so I have a lot of really good recipes.”
Root plans to have a Portuguese sweet bread or roll that tastes similar to the local zwiebach.
“It’s wonderful with coffees, but you can eat it with anything,” she said.
For now, though, Root is looking forward to creating an atmosphere that invites patrons to spend time in her coffeehouse.
“I hope people will feel comfortable coming in and meeting their friends,” she said. “I also think it’ll be a nice place for couples to spend leisurely time together.”
Root said Little Pleasures will be organized in sections, with books and tables in the back for those who like personal reflection, while the front portion will have background music to help create a light atmosphere.
Down the road, Root hopes to incorporate a variety of live entertainment-once again determined by the interests of her patrons.
“If people want a certain form of entertainment, all they have to do is ask and I’ll see if it’s available.”
To start, the hours for Little Pleasure will be the same as Lagniappe, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. The phone number is 947-2058.
“People work hard for their money and I want to offer a place to go and meet with their friends and relax,” she said. “Hopefully, Hillsboro will make this their place to come and hang out.
“I want people to feel like this is their place.”