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Customers flock to downtown coffee shop

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Mallory Brothers makes a plain latte on Thursday at Trax Coffee Bar at Station Square.

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Staff Writer

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Close your eyes at Trax Coffee Bar and your mind might wander to somewhere other than downtown Rocky Mount.

A colorful ice cream cooler aside, the 900-foot stow away in Station Square has a rustic feel; a mellow hardwood finish with similarly brown-shaded shelves, well-thought out seating areas and a black chalkboard for a menu.

And of course, it wouldn’t be Rocky Mount-chic without a dose of craft beer, and Trax has that, too. Three taps to the right of the coffee station behind the counter pump local favorites from nearby Tarboro Brewing Co. and Hopfly Brewing.

Enter from the Station Square parking lot and you’ll see the coffee bar to the left, an intimate arrangement of sofa chairs to the right and a work bar with bar stools in the middle with plug-in outlets on the side — the bedrock of an internet cafe that was previously missing in Rocky Mount.

Since opening Trax on April 10, owner Samuel Brothers, a coffee perfectionist who opened his first storefront in Tarboro, already has what any downtown area looking for traction needs the most: Regulars.

“It’s already become that third place. We’ve got several people that come in throughout the day,” said Brothers, who prioritized strong and free wifi early in the planning process. “They say they’re so tired of working at home, so happy there's this place. They get to come in and work and not be distracted. It quickly started becoming that.”

A retiree and native of Missouri who moved to Tarboro a few years ago because his wife got a job in Pinetops, Brothers, along with his son, Nick, and daughter, Mallory, plus other members of the staff, have grand plans for Trax.

For now, it’s open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

But: “I quickly realized it was called Church Street for a reason,” Brothers said of the store’s address, 301 South Church Street.

They plan to open on Sundays soon, and as the event center opens and more buzz generates, keep the store open beyond 7 p.m., perhaps to further utilize those three beer taps. The dimly lit setting, if need be, could double well as a bar. There has also been talk with Station Square about hosting concerts and other events.

“We want to provide something that’s nice —  kind of elegant,” said Nick Hoxsey, who followed the family here from Missouri. “Something for people to come and hang out at and chill out, either in the store or in the building or the courtyard.

“When I first came to downtown Rocky Mount, it was missing a lot. From what I understood, a lot of places moved from downtown. What we’re wanting to do is bring back the people.”

The results, even after a little over two weeks, have been there.

Over a two-hour span on Thursday, people came and went, some with laptops, some with children, some for coffee, some for beer, some with dogs, some with dogs who were given vanilla ice cream. People socialized outside, beverages on tables, in a way they wouldn’t have if not for Trax.

“We’re those people where we don’t really trust what everyone else says about something,” said Mallory Brothers, 12, who Nick referred to jokingly as the unofficial youngest barista in Eastern North Carolina. “If they say don’t go there, we’ll try for ourselves.”

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