COLUMBUS GROVE — Downtown Columbus Grove is now home to a coffee shop. Located at 119 N High Street, Ooh La Latte offers drip coffee and a variety of made-to-order espresso drinks featuring Aaron Bremer’s locally roasted Rubato coffee beans, locally produced milk from Knueven Creamery, and also locally made baked goods from K&D Creations. The Operating hours are currently Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 6:30-10:30 a.m.; Saturdays from 7:30-10:30 a.m.; and also Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 4-7 p.m.

Lifelong Columbus Grove resident and retired Columbus Grove Local Schools teacher Jill Glass is Ooh La Latte’s proprietor, and her new endeavor took a somewhat circuitous route to fruition. The location came to her and her husband, Brent Glass, by way of family connections. With Mr. Glass not yet retired and still working for UPS, they were not initially sure what to do with it.

“We said that we were going to buy-it about a year and a half ago,” Mrs. Glass says, pointing out that they had purchased the location prior to her retirement. “Originally, I thought about tutoring out of it. But, after 34 years of teaching, I thought I might want to try something different.”

“Then, a gentleman who makes cookies here, his name is Keith Johnson (of K&D Creations), he approached [a member of the family]. She was asked by [Mr. Johnson] about renting this place.”

“She told him that we own it. Then, somebody from town here said, ‘Well Grove needs a coffee shop.’ And, the guidance counselor I always worked with at the school, she has always said, ‘Grove needs a coffee shop. Grove needs a coffee shop.’”

With ideas beginning to percolate, Mrs. Glass then turned her thoughts towards the shop’s interior. It is very well decorated with locally made, seasonal home furnishings and craft items, most of which are also for sale.

“So, that’s how it kind of went,” she says. “It just went from one thing to the next, and now here we are with a coffee shop.”

This past April, a former student of Mrs. Glass, Aaron Bremer, announced his intention to launch a small-batch coffee roaster. Soon thereafter, Rubato Coffee Lab (www.rubatocoffeelab.com) was born.

“It’s delicious. It’s amazing,” she says. “I started meeting with [Mr. Bremer] at the beginning of summer. He advised me on what equipment to get.”

Mrs. Glass is then asked what she enjoys when making a drink for herself.

“Actually, I had never had an iced coffee latte,” she answers. “[Mr. Bremer] and I went through all of the [espresso drinks], and I tasted all of them, and that is my favorite. I think the raspberry iced latte is amazing…I also like the drip coffee. I’m a coffee drinker and I just drink it black, normally. The drip coffee, black, is perfect for me.”

It’s perhaps worth noting that Ooh La Latte exists because a community came together and made it into being. Without Mr. Johnson’s K&D Creations and Mr. Bremer’s Rubato Coffee, Mrs. Glass may have done something completely different, or the location might still stand empty. And, those small, home-based businesses themselves might not exist without the VFW’s Grove Marketplace, which has served as business incubator of sorts, offering entrepreneurs a chance to try out new products and ideas.

In the course of conversation, Mrs. Glass also praised Dan and Cheryl Risser’s Rowdy Rooster Cafe, Skyler Mayberry’s Axe Handle, and Beth Mason’s Beads by Beth, her next-door neighbor, as inspirations.

Combine all of this activity, and one gets the sense that perhaps something is beginning to happen in small towns like Columbus Grove.

Perhaps they’re beginning to again thrive? With storefronts remaining vacant, including the former Hawkeye’s Pharmacy directly across the street, this is likely premature. But, it’s an idea worthy of conversation, preferably over an excellent cup of coffee.