If you are a Salt Lake Community College student in need of a relaxing place to study and hang out, the Watchtower Café is a convenient choice.
Located across the street from South City Campus, the Watchtower is not your average coffee shop. The café also functions as a comic book store, and hosts a gallery where local artists can show their works.
Globe contributor Christopher Toney-El spoke to café owners Mike Tuiasoa and Cori Hoekstra to learn more about the business and how it started.
How long have you guys been in business?
Cori Hoekstra: We’re celebrating our two-year anniversary next month. It’s still new and it’s still a baby.
Does this shop offer benefits to SLCC students?
CH: Yes, we offer a 10 percent student discount and we offer faculty a 15 percent discount. We also have plenty of meeting spaces for groups and have later hours (until midnight) for students to study. We also have a large area for projects and are more than happy to let students use our shop.
Mike Tuiasoa: We also have complimentary Wi-Fi for students with a purchase of coffee. We also provide a study hall with private booths along with outlets to plug in your computer and phone.
What made you come up with a comic book theme?
MT: Years before I met Cori, my cousin and I had an idea to start up a comic book shop. We’re both really nerdy and love comic book shops; we love super heroes and Star Wars.
It started out as a game of what if we had our own shop? It would have couches and be comfortable because most comic book shops aren’t a place to chill at. So, we had the idea of a coffee bar and having themed drinks.
As the years went on, I eventually met Cori and she was already working here at the coffee shop. Then she made her way up to GM. One day I made a joke in passing saying maybe we should buy a coffee shop and call it the Watchtower, then the idea clicked: Maybe we should open up a coffee shop that sells comics.
CH: Mike and I were texting each other about what it would take to open up our own shop and I happen to text a friend who ran her own shop and an hour later she texts me back about the owners of this place looking to sell this shop.
MT: This happened the same day I made that joke about running our own shop.