At Whistle Stop, Candace Jennings has a concoction called “Happy Blend.” In all honesty, that could be the brand for her entire operation. As a pretty regular regular, I’ve about seen it all at Whistle Stop Coffee & Mercantile in downtown Lee’s Summit.
Careers begin there. Relationships, too. Business deals are signed. We hear about the good news and, sometimes, not-so-good news about our community as we caffeinate in the morning for the day or as we chase that afternoon energy boost.
We gather at the local coffee shop to share heartache and heart-warming stories. The events of city council, school board and even our own neighbors are regular topics.
And for the business she has built — and, really for the community she has constructed among tables and booths and patio chairs — Whistle Stop owner Candace Jennings was rewarded handsomely at the Lee’s Summit Chamber of Commerce luncheon May 18 as one of four Business of the Year recipients.
At some point soon after my move from Iowa to Lee’s Summit, I found the Whistle Stop. I wasn’t even a coffee drinker then. I cannot recall what the nature of my visit was, but I could tell I was at a place filled with energy. And so much of that energy comes from Candace.
Candace could have the weight of the world on her and you would never know it. The smile seems to be a permanent fixture and is highly transmittable to her employees and the customers all around her.
The Whistle Stop is arguably the hub of downtown Lee’s Summit — a central meeting point for business, pleasure, networking or just bumping into that friend or neighbor you haven’t seen in a while.
The Whistle Stop, not unlike any of our businesses, has evolved and grown with the times. The hours have changed, art dons the walls, funky blends of coffee are introduced and a veritable endless stream of creative bites and drinks often finds its way to menu.
But what Candace and crew are best at — and this is a common theme among many of the Chamber’s business of the year winners — is they flat out deliver excellence in customer service.
That’s been a hallmark of so many businesses and neighbors of Whistle Stop that have won this award in the past. Downtown Lee’s Summit-located businesses like A Thyme for Everything, Budget Blinds, Julia E. Hampton, CPA, PC and Neighborhood Café have all been present at this annual event to have that banner revealed and recognized as the top business in Lee’s Summit over the past few years. And that these businesses thrive and contribute to the community in so many ways — particularly in the heart of our city — is no coincidence.
Whistle Stop is unique. It’s familiar. For some, it’s the office. When you walk in and find Candace behind the counter, whipping up your drink or walking table to table saying hello, you really start to understand not only why the business is successful, but how encouraging community is likely the best marketing practice out there.
Good business owners with big hearts don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Today, we raise our coffee mugs to Candace and her team.
Editor's Note: John Beaudoin is a Lee's Summit resident and award winning writer and former newspaper publisher in the Lee's Summit community. Views and opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily reflect those of Link 2 Lee's Summit, it's employees or any other guest contributors.
LS Chamber announces top businesses for 2018
Four local businesses were recipients of the Truly the Best Business of the Year awards at the monthly membership luncheon on May 18.