Some people do a double take when they drive down Main Street in Johnstown these days.
Some people do a double take when they drive down Main Street in Johnstown these days. They’ve spotted people sitting at café tables, enjoying espressos, cappuccinos made with milk from nearby dairy farms, and made-on-the-premises baked goods, amidst an attractive arrangement of flowers and plants. It’s a scene that you might expect to see in a cosmopolitan city like Montreal or New York, except it’s right in Fulton County.
Second Wind, opened in 2019 by Gloversville born and bred entrepreneur Shawn Beebie, is a prime example of the city’s own second wind as the local economy continues to grow.
Beebie, himself on his second wind after surviving cancer, did most of the demolition, building, and interior design work himself in the year prior to opening. He ripped up floors to reveal the original hardwood, exposed the space’s brick walls, and built a restroom, among other renovations, breathing new life into the old downtown building.
Local government was enthusiastic about Beebie’s desire to open an upscale coffee shop. “I was welcomed with open arms with my vision,” he said. The Fulton County Center for Regional Growth assisted Beebie in securing a $32,357 Microenterprise grant, part of which he used to purchase a handmade espresso machine from Slayer, a small Seattle-based company that patented a new technology for brewing espresso. Beebie describes the sleek, modern-looking machine as “the Ferrari of the coffee industry.”
“I was welcomed with open arms with my vision,”
To brew the specialty coffees that give his customers a second wind, Beebie uses organic, fair trade coffee beans from sustainable farms all over the world, including Peru, Brazil, Colombia, and Ethiopia. He created his own line of Second Wind Coffee beans that he roasts, packages, and sells in the shop and plans to offer online.
His coffee not only comes from around the globe; it travels there, too. “I’ve had people from Italy, France, Germany, Scotland, Ireland, England, and Canada,” he said. A German couple who was touring the United States googled “coffee shops,” got off the interstate at Fonda, and drove up to Johnstown just to sample his coffee. They took some home with them.
Part of what makes Second Wind a destination is the coffee shop’s rustic, urban chic interior design, which reflects the theme in its repurposed furnishings and décor, like the tables Beebie constructed from the floorboards of an old leather mill, a toilet paper holder crafted from an old wrench, counters made from the sides of an old tractor-trailer, and the front of a 1963 Chevy C-10 pickup truck that serves as a centerpiece over the coffee bar. “Most people would cast a lot of these things aside, but I see beauty in a lot of things that are old,” he said.
To brew the specialty coffees that give his customers a second wind, Beebie uses organic, fair trade coffee beans from sustainable farms all over the world.
Beebie’s passion for hospitality and his love of food go beyond a cup of joe. He hosts “pop up” nights featuring varying cuisine, where people come in for a one-night event. At one pop up, he served steamed clams, lobster rolls, oysters, and lobster tails. By advertising through social media, he attracted a crowd of about 200. Other planned pop ups include a wood-fired pizza night and a street taco and corn night.
Since opening, he added a lunch menu with offerings that include a variety of sandwiches, a soup du jour and sweet treats. In the future, Beebie plans to expand his business through extended evening hours, so that he can offer craft beer and wine samplings paired with live entertainment including, guitar players and open mic night.
Beebie’s offerings, including the sidewalk café setup out front, have not only brought customers to his shop, but to other downtown businesses as well, exemplifying the spirit of cooperation and mutual support that are hallmarks of the city. “I’ve actually been told by a lot of other local businesses that since I’ve been here, they are getting so much more foot traffic to their businesses,” Beebie said. After people stop for coffee, they might pop into the clothing store next door or across the street to the comic book and hobby shop.
Second Wind is just the beginning for Beebie, and his enthusiasm for being part of the City of Johnstown’s second wind is clear. Based on his success in Johnstown, he is looking to add other Second Wind locations throughout New York’s Capital District, as well as opening some restaurants, bars, hospitality venues, and catering services. “My goal—my mission—is that I want to bring really good culinary to Fulton County, as well as sourcing from local farmers and local craftsmen,” he said.