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JULY 2014
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Coffee ShopOutside The Coffee House in Old Town Henderson, owner Don Watkins sits at a table on the sidewalk patio, smoking a cigarette and chatting with a customer. It’s a warm autumn weekday, and on any other downtown Main Street, the sidewalks would likely be filled with people making their way to shops, restaurants and offices. But here on Water Street, The Coffee House (117 Water Street, 752- 3199) is the only sign of life on the otherwise dead street. When Watkins walks in, he chats with a few older locals about topics of the day, including — perhaps ironically — First Friday in downtown Las Vegas. It’s ironic because this coffee shop, which Watkins hopes to turn into a hub for arts and culture in downtown Henderson, is on a street rife with vacant storefronts and boarded-up windows. Add to that the fact that Watkins took over the shop from a former owner who tried to make a go of slinging coffee. Watkins, a concrete contractor by trade, raised $20,000 to get things up and running. What will make a difference this time?

“The art, the music and the coffee. I think I’ve got the best coffee in town,” he says. “That’s what makes a place work — when you come in, you always get consistently good coffee.”

Downtown Las Vegas seems to be on an effortless winning streak. Entrepreneurs build the bars, cafés and hangouts, and the urbanites come. It’s a decidedly different story in downtown Henderson, which serves as a reminder that not everywhere in Southern Nevada is urban pioneering such a sure thing.

But Watkins is making some promising moves. While his coffee is tasty (the beans are Lavazza and the syrups are Monin), it’s more likely the other two facets of that trifecta responsible for The Coffee House’s growing success. From the start, Watkins has aggressively recruited local artists not only to fill the red walls in his cozy space, but to also do live painting in the shop. The venue hosts open-mic nights on Wednesdays and Fridays, poetry on Tuesdays, a United States Chess Federation-certified chess club meeting on Mondays, and even the occasional acting class during the day. After dark, The Coffee House’s bohemian atmosphere comes out in full force, table lamps and track lights accenting the crimson walls and vintage furniture, old hippies, young punks and middle-aged writers comfortably commingling. (If clove smoke started filling the room, you’d swear you were on Maryland Parkway circa 1996.)

Based on the lack of coffee spotted in people’s hands at a recent Wednesday night jam session, however, nightly entertainment won’t pay the bills. Water Street needs more vital businesses surrounding The Coffee House for it to survive. Watkins says he’d like to see more art in Old Town, or even just “shops that have art.” He mentions a few friends who have shown interest in opening a restaurant or maybe a crystals store down there. But for now, despite the rash of empty storefronts and boarded-up windows, Watkins remains optimistic.

“I know the location sucks,” he says, “but with the art, music and coffee, people will come.”


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Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf LAKE MEAD & TENAYA
7291 W Lake Mead
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PALMS CASINO
4321 W Flamingo Rd
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UNLV
4550 W Maryland Pkwy Suite A
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CARNIVALE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian Food Court
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THE LAKES
9091 W Sahara Ave
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THE DISTRICT
2220 Village Walk Dr Suite 140
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MIRACLE MILE
3663 Las Vegas Blvd S Suite 45
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CANYON POINT
10834 W Charleston Blvd Suite 200
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TOWN CENTER
3645 S Town Center Dr Suite 101
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PATRICK
6115 S Rainbow Blvd Suite 101
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PALAZZO
3265 Las Vegas Blvd, Suite 1600
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TOWN SQUARE
6599 Las Vegas Blvd, South #P-8149
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BRIDGE
3377 Las Vegas Blvd
The Venetian
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BOULDER CITY
Boulder Dam Credit Union
530 Avenue G
Boulder City NV
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Jumba Juice

PEBBLE
1500 N. Green Valley Pkwy Suite 240
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SAHARA & EASTERN
2675 S. Eastern Ave Suite 400
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MCCARRAN MARKETPLACE
5905 S Eastern Ave Suite 108
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NORTH MESA PLAZA
1829 W. Craig Road Unit 3
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CANNERY CORNER
2546 E. Craig Road Suite 135
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WESTLAND FAIR
1121 S. Decatur Blvd
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2376 East Red Cliffs Drive #502
St. George, UT 84790
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