On this week’s installment of the Coffee Shop Road Trip, Jennifer Seay is back with another reason I need to visit Las Vegas – Inspire News Café. And basically the whole downtown area. I am ecstatic to include a post that touches on my favorite things – coffee, tea, books, and shoes (or at least a company that sells shoes). Enjoy!
Something about the day said “Get up! Get out!” So, I did. And, while that may or may not have been a mistake, here I am. Back when Suzanne first posted about the Coffee Shop Road Trip there were two spaces that came to mind. The first was within ten minutes of my house. The second was Inspire – which is where I am now.
Downtown Las Vegas was just about the last place I ever would’ve thought of to put a coffee house, but that was a little over a year ago before Tony Hsieh (all of those letters phonetically form “Shay”) decided to make downtown his project – aptly named the Downtown Project. See, Mr. Hsieh is one of the creators and the CEO of Zappos and if you don’t know what that is – you haven’t been shopping for shoes on the intertubez. So, long story short – he has more money than … someone with a lot of money … and he’s actually giving back to his community. How … revolutionary!
Inspire was made possible by the Downtown Project – as many things have been since Mr. Hsieh came to town – and the coffee itself may be forgettable (It’s Illy coffee) but the space is great and there is plenty of character to go around. My 16 oz cup of Earl Grey tea cost $3.00 and there are no foodstuffs for purchase, but here at Inspire it really does seem to be about the environment. There are magazines – local magazines – lining the walls. There are national magazines, too, but I was impressed by how many local publications there are. A free wi-fi passcode came with my tea which allowed me to be interrupted by a rather disturbing request from a friend – disturbing in that it was non-specific which usually means I’m about to let myself get railroaded, but that’s a personal problem…
Off to one side is something that looks like a Xerox and, in fact, it is, but it is so much more than a photocopier. This machine is the Espresso Book Machine. It will print and bind your book (or any book in their catalog, which includes anything in Project Gutenberg, among other things) in minutes… as an aspiring writer this machine has a huge hold on me. I want to give them my file and watch it become a reality, but I know I have lots of editing to do – I’m mired in editing right now. And avoidance of said editing, but again – personal problem!
There are lots of choices for seating including a wooden, theatre style, tiered area with pillows to use. I sat at a table in the corner that had a bench seat on the wall and a chair across the table. There were also couches in the center that were occupied on and off by people having discussions – probably of business related to downtown…
Along with anything in downtown Las Vegas comes the local wildlife – in this case a gentleman on the street yelling about how much he hated Chicago, he was quite creative with the way he interspersed colorful metaphors into his tirade. Few people in the shop took much notice, so this must be a semi-regular occurrence. Also – parking – it is on street and you have to pay, but it’s not bad at all. $1.00 per hour with a two-hour time limit.
While you’re here I highly recommend the Container Park, which is a mall built out of shipping containers – the metal shipping containers used by companies to move freight whether by road, rail, or water. All of the businesses in the Container Park are local, small business start-ups. Most of them are heavily subsidized by the Downtown Project – at least to get started and then as they grow they become more independent. It is just a couple of blocks away on Fremont Street.
This wasn’t meant to become a love letter to Tony Hsieh, but the man certainly deserves a really big cookie for everything he’s done for downtown Las Vegas. If he aspired to be mayor, I’d vote for him.
As for Inspire – the hook here is the environment, not the coffee. I enjoyed it. I’d come back again if I were in downtown. Is it worth a special trip to downtown? For me, yes – at least this once, but I’m a ‘satisfy my curiosity’ kind of person. Is it worth it to get a taxi from the Strip? Hmmm… probably not, unless you want to check out that cool book-bindery Xerox machine thingy. Is it worth it to stop in if you’re already checking out the Fremont Street scene? Yes. Absolutely.
Where: Inspire News Café, 501 Fremont Street, Las Vegas, Nevada 89101
Phone: (702) 910-2388
Location: The Southeast corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Fremont Street
Parking: Street. Pay the meter. The meters take coins or credit cards.
Hours: Monday – Saturday 9am to 7pm for the Café and 10 am to 7pm for the Book Machine
Jennifer grew up in the southeastern United States eating dirt and drinking goat’s milk. She wrote her first story when she was six years old titled “The Cats in the Carillon.” It was approximately 200 words and had three sequels. Her current piece is approximately 100,000 words and the main character is not a cat. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her husband and two furry editors. She burbles about her book, cats, and life at mercurialforte.wordpress.com.