SMITHVILLE — Quickly becoming a hopping spot in downtown Smithville, Cornerstone Coffee is open for business.

“Everyday is an adventure,” owner Leeah Shipley, 23, said. “I’m learning a lot, more than I ever anticipated; anywhere from how to run electricity to what kind of insurance carrier I need to have and everything in between.”

Sourced locally, Cornerstone Coffee uses Hammerhand Coffee beans, a coffee distributor in Liberty. The business has four employees and features WiFi for guests.

In addition to coffee, Shipley said the shop also has a variety of teas and child-friendly options including a vanilla bean frappe, Italian soda and juice boxes.

“We do bakery items here, too,” the owner added. “I bake everything fresh in the morning before we open. I have a commissary kitchen agreement with Chop’s BBQ. They are super helpful and super supportive. They’re seeing this downtown area grow and prosper so they were willing to let me use there commercial kitchen for baking.”

Slowly becoming the staple treat in her Smithville shop is the fresh baked cinnamon roll croissant, Shipley said, adding one of her favorite beverages is the latte.

“You can’t beat it,” she said.

Eager to be a part of the downtown area, Shipley said she chose the location for several reasons.

“I wanted to stay in Smithville,” the city native said. “I wanted to be in the downtown area because I really love the culture down here and wanted to be a part of the downtown culture. And then, Mayor Boley was the one who reached out to me and kind of had the idea for this space specifically.”

Upon hearing his vision, Shipley said she moved forward to make it a reality. The space, not only home to the coffee shop, is also home to the new Bridge Street Theater, a community theater group that will be featured in a future edition of the Courier-Tribune.

“It gives so much more character to this place,” Shipley said of the community theater group, “having an actual set and stage in here with it constantly changing.”

Beyond wanting to be a part of the downtown culture and the opportunity Boley presented her, Shipley said there is deeper meaning to her shop on the corner.

“My grandma, Connie Hevalow, she owned the business a few stores down called Cornerstone Fabric,” Shipley explained. “She ran the fabric store for 15 years and had to close it down last May. I really liked and wanted to apply the business model she had. Her name came from Christ being the cornerstone of her business. That is where she got Cornerstone Fabric. I love that and want to honor that and also want to honor her with this business. That is why I chose this name.”

With grandma being a cheerleader for her success, Shipley said owning a downtown business means a lot to her. Her great-grandmother, a third Smithville local by the name of Margeurite Jones, also owned a small downtown drug store in Parkville, making Shipley a third-generation downtown shop owner.

“My mom had no desire, so it skipped over her,” Shipley said with a smile. “It’s fun to see (my grandma and great-grandma) pass down advice for me. They get excited for me and I’m excited. It’s super special.”

Northwest Editor Sean Roberts can be reached at or 389-6606.​

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