Joe’s Story

Have you ever had a great idea come to mind? Something crazy, totally new and original; something you were so excited about, you just had to make it happen? Perhaps you then quickly realized that the likelihood of your idea coming true was just about as likely as winning the lottery. This perfectly sums up the beginning of the dream that would one day become Joe’s.

The Idea

Prior to January of 2005, few would have even known that the Fellowship Hall even existed. The big room in the Alumni Student Center was primarily used by Moody employees as an occasional lunchroom, Moody Radio for their Share telethon once a year, and the awkward Moody couple when they needed to share a moment alone in a big silent room. It certainly wasn’t a place for “fellowship,” though its name indicated otherwise.

Yet one day, an idea started to form in the minds of a few Moody students. Many on Moody’s campus had expressed their desire for a casual place on Moody’s campus to hang out, listen to music, showcase artwork, study and build relationships. The SDR, Commons and dorm lounges could only go so far to facilitate such an environment. And who wants to walk all the way to Starbucks on frigid Chicago winter nights? So after conversations with StuCo a formal proposal was created—a proposal to create Moody’s very own coffee shop.

The Obstacles

However, the details could not be set in stone. Location preferences varied. The responsibility shifted from students, to Food Service, to an outside management company. As the fall of 2004 drew to a close, this dream still seemed impossible. Doors were being shut, and vision of a Moody coffee shop was quickly disappearing.

The Name

Early on in the planning stage, the name “Joe’s” had been chosen. The intent behind this decision was to honor Dr, Joseph Stowell, Moody’s 7th President. This man was not only greatly fond of coffee, but also of fellowship with people in the Moody community. With the recent announcement of Dr. Stowell’s resignation from Moody in the coming spring of 2005, “Joe’s” seemed even more fitting.

Around mid-November, a group of Moody’s leadership gathered to put the finishing touches on the plans to say goodbye to Dr. Stowell. When Student Leadership placed the Joe’s proposal on the table, the future of a Moody coffee shop was given its last chance for approval. To everyone’s surprise, the committee loved the idea of a coffee shop and quickly gave it the green light. Joe’s would be a farewell gift in honor of Dr. Stowell’s tenure at Moody. However, there was a stipulation—the Grand Opening Date would be of Jan. 14, 2005, just two months away.

The Race to Open

Thanksgiving and Christmas were a whirlwind as students and staff worked with vendors, hired trained employees and built a café. But this dream was soon to become a reality. Moody Bible Institute’s coffee shop would soon open its doors.

And so with a staff of 10 baristas, with hours from 6–11 p.m., Joe's opened on January 14. It quickly became apparent that evenings weren’t enough, so Joe’s opened in the morning, then expanded service to the full day. Soon “Live Music” nights began, with students performing everything from jazz, to rap, to poetry. The walls of Joe’s were quickly filled with the art of talented Moody students. And Joe’s employees continued making great drinks.

The Purpose

Joe’s is about much more than just coffee. Joe’s is about people; people talking and laughing, meeting and studying. Coffee itself is merely a means to an end. The end of Joe’s is not a huge profit; the end is the facilitation of a true community of real people. Joe’s is a place where everyone can feel at home and no one is unwelcome.

We ourselves were excited to see this dream become a reality for a number of reasons. We really do love great coffee, music and art. But more than that, we desired to see the students, faculty and employees of Moody Bible Institute experience community in the café environment—to rub shoulders with one another and learn from each other. We desired to be a part of an environment where true community would be formed and God would be honored.

Thank you for your part in keeping this dream alive!

David Amann and the rest of the original Joe's Crew