MOUNT VERNON, Iowa (KCRG) - A popular place almost every day in Our Town Mount Vernon is a downtown coffee shop named Fuel, but this shop offers a lot more than just a great cup of Joe.
"'Fuel' was born out of an idea that it was going to take both coffee and retail to have the traffic that I wanted," said owner Tommie Ouverson.
And it's worked.
For 15 years, people have come in for a caffeine break during the day, but many also come for the merchandise, including Tommie's own artwork.
"You know I love to do it. I have a studio at home. I make things. I can sell them here. It's been a great marriage of two things that, in this town, work together really well," Tommie said.
Of course, customers love the baked goods too. But Tommie says the credit for that goes to her mother, calling her instrumental to Fuel's success.
"She has been my cookie baker for 15 years," she said. Every single morning she's here making scones and cookies, and everything's made from scratch."
"It's that place where you can come and have a cup of coffee, put your feet up, and… Aren't you supposed to be retired? Gosh, this has been a real gift to me because, yes, I have been retired now for about 15 years, and I can't even imagine what I'd be doing with all of my time if I didn't have this place to come to," said Pat Ouverson, the baker-in-chief at Fuel.
Fuel's customers come from all over. The locals, of course, but also others from eastern Iowa and well beyond.
"I had a woman from New York here yesterday who said I don't come to Iowa without stopping in your shop. So regulars from Mount Vernon. Regulars from all over," Tommie said.
Customers have included national political figures and celebrities, which Tommie says is fun, but she wouldn't trade any of that for the people who re-fuel Fuel every day.
"We have this cast of incredible characters that we see all week long. And that is what really fills me up more than anything, I think."