Andrea “Andie” Rising, the proprietor of the Bean Broker Coffee Shop and Pub in Chadron, is a lovely contradiction. A ranching child, she relishes the rural life, riding horses and wrangling cattle. “I love to hear the curlews and to smell the meadow. I could be alone for months,” she said. And yet Andie is one of the most gregarious people I have met. “I think it’s so important to be able to talk to people that have had other experiences.”
She relishes not just the activities within the building, but the Mildred Block Building itself, which Andie acquired over 15 years ago. Built in 1912, it started life as the New Citizen State Bank and has been many things since, such as a Non-Commissioned Officer Club and an armory. Now, the ground floor contains the coffee shop and pub, as well as Andie’s flat. Upstairs are more than a dozen rooms that are being restored for use by local entrepreneurial tenants. Some of the design features include the original tin ceiling, mosaic tiled floor and Frank Lloyd Wright designed window glass. The building also hosts Andie’s custom framing business, Circa 1916.
The Bean Broker is a spirited venue. Vibrancy in the town at large also can be felt emanating from the state college. I love college towns, with the urgency of thought and emphasis on inquiry brought by studious minds. I live now near the UNO campus. However, rather like Wayne in the opposite eastern corner of the state, where the warmly urbane professor JV Brummels referenced a subtle separation between community and campus affiliations as “town and gown,” in Chadron that detachment is referenced as the “10th Street divide.”
Andie and some of her patrons seemed surprised that there were not more college students and employees at the Bean Broker, although they are not entirely absent, of course. The college president “Comes here and buys coffee every single morning,” noted Andie. I spoke with four of Andie’s employees who are students at the college. They were delightful, expressive and engaged. Kyle, originally from Columbus, Ohio, chose Chadron State College as “another adventure.” He too noted something of the 10th Street divide, but also said that, “A majority of people in this town do back the college.” By way of example, he referenced the Big Event, a community day he helped organize where students took part in volunteer community efforts. The day required and received sponsorship and support from across the community. I heard similar sentiments from Don, my barber that day, who observed that, “We’re an agricultural driven community, but the hub of our existence is the college.”
Perhaps that is why the Bean Broker feels not only a natural part of the local environment but as an embodiment and ideal expression of it. Andie established the Bean Broker as a community, she said, so that “Maybe sometimes you can experience something you wouldn’t experience someplace else. Where you look at each other and don’t judge, and you say we’re all part of this.”
When you are with Andie, her irrepressible personality is shown in a giggle accompanied by an ebullient double hand clap. “I don’t know why. And I don’t know how,” she said, “There’s just so much beauty.” To say she loves everything about the world around her is an understatement. Her commitment to community in Chadron is admirable. “People are what make the world…” she said, with a beaming smile and hands poised to clap. People like Andie.