Java Joe’s CoffeeHouse, a community gathering space and rite of passage for many a political candidate and media pundit, closed its doors in downtown Des Moines after 29 years.
The restaurant announced the closing at 214 Fourth St. on Tuesday through a Facebook post thanking Des Moines for its 29 years of support. According to the Facebook post, the roasting operation will relocate to the Java Joe’s Ankeny storefront, which will also begin to host live performances.
Java Joe’s opened in 1992 with owner Joe Coppola as the face of the coffeehouse. From its inception, it hosted live music performances and offered espresso beverages — a hard find around 1990s Des Moines.
In December 2007, Tim Brehm and Amy Ostring purchased Java Joe's. The MSNBC cable talk show “Morning Joe” approached the Brehms at the last minute about hosting the show inside the coffeeshop during the 2008 election cycle after hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski couldn’t get credentials for the Des Moines media center. The appearance forged a longtime friendship between the talk show and Java Joe’s and put the coffeehouse on the map, making it a must-see for visitors and a hot spot for politics.
Ultimately, Tim Brehm told the Register, the regular appearance of the “Morning Joe” team helped him expand the franchise into other Iowa locations including a second Des Moines location at 4944 Douglas Ave., a Dubuque space at 342 Main St. and the Ankeny location at 129 N. Ankeny Blvd. next to Brehm's other storefront, TJ's Bagels.
In April, Michael Larsen, general manager of the downtown Java Joe’s, told the Register that despite the return of pre-pandemic regulars, the coffeehouse was still grappling with the effects that COVID-19 had on business.
“Our biggest struggle is still that most businesses downtown have not returned,” Larsen said at the time, referring to major employers such as Wellmark and Wells Fargo whose employees largely remained remote.
The Douglas Avenue and Dubuque locations also closed, making Ankeny the only remaining spot to grab a Java Joe’s espresso.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated Amy Ostring's last name. Ostring and Brehm divorced in 2017, at which point Ostring's ownership of Java Joe's ceased.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Java Joe's CoffeeHouse closes downtown, relocates operation to Ankeny