Fun and Friendship in Lake Lotawana
A month or so ago, I stumbled across an Instagram post about a place called The Lottie Coffee and Cone. I was struck not only by the name, so reminiscent of my fictional friend Lottie Braun, but by the font used to create the sign.
The coffee shop sign and my book covers match.
Immediately I followed The Lottie on all my social media accounts, as one does nowadays when stalking a business. Over time I learned that the coffee shop in Lake Lotawana MO is still a baby, only four months old. The owners are working to foster community, and feature not only hot drinks but ice cream and pastries for the non-caffeinated crowd.
I took my findings to Shannon, my writing partner of seven years. “What do you think?” I said. “It’s kind of far away, but should I go visit?”
As usual, Shannon had the inside scoop. “I know exactly where that shop is,” she said. “I used to live five minutes from there. It’s not far away.”
A week later Shannon drove me straight to the front door of The Lottie Coffee and Cone, a farmhouse-chic space at a country crossroads just east of Lee’s Summit. The setting feels undeniably lake-oriented, with the Canoe Club Lakeside Grill on one side and the Three Anchors Boutique across the street. But The Lottie is more Fixer Upper than Fishing Shack.
The staff greeted us warmly and took our orders for frou-frou coffee drinks and monster cookies. Their coffee is roasted by Oddly Correct, a local Kansas City operation, and is delicious. The monster cookies, which happen to be gluten-free, are also delightful. I have a soft spot for monster cookies from my University of Iowa days, when I could buy them on the cheap from a cookie stand in the Old Capitol Mall.
The owner, Jami, was enthusiastic when I showed her my book covers. I gave her a copy of Lottie’s Gift, and she shared that she too is a writer, but she’s having trouble finding time to put words on the page. Young mom, small business owner, AND writer? That’s a full life!
Shannon and I could not have felt more welcome at The Lottie. We soaked it all in and bought a few souvenir mugs to take with us. As wonderful as that was, the best part of our time together was really ahead of us.
“Do you want to see where I used to live?” Shannon asked as we pulled away.
Of course I did.
Shannon lived the “before” part of her life five minutes from The Lottie. Before she began writing and producing screenplays. Before she married her sweet husband Brian. Before she gave Jesus full control of her life.
I didn’t know her back then, when she was a working mother of two small boys in a shaky marriage that would soon fall apart. I didn’t know her as a single mom with bills to pay, cleaning houses as a second job. These were the stories she told while we cruised the modest neighborhood where those dramas unfolded. She talked about crossing the Lake Tapawinga dam every day with her young sons, the “pretty, shiny lake” they loved. And the day she drove that road with tears streaming down her face, at the end of her strength, and told the Lord she needed him to take over.
A sad story with a transformative ending.
We crossed the dam on Liggett Road, and pulled into a lovely picnic spot. A few photos, perhaps a few reminiscent tears, and we were on our way back to present-day life.
The beauty of my Midwestern field trips has always been the friendships they foster. Whether I’m touring western Kansas with my friend April or checking out the All-Electric House with my son Matt, I’m always happiest with a traveling companion.
I wish The Lottie Coffee and Cone much success and long life, but as usual my favorite thing about this adventure was the friend I shared it with.