Since opening in February of 2022, Nowhere Coffee Co. on Tilghman Street has been a Muhlenberg favorite. From their delicious coffee, good bites and warm atmosphere, Nowhere Coffee Co. is the ideal place for students to study off campus. After the successes of their Allentown and Emmaus locations—with President Biden visiting the Emmaus location a month ago—Nowhere Coffee wanted to expand their operations by opening a new roastery in Upper Macungie. The expansion process has been in place for some time, beginning with a search for a potential building. Nowhere Coffee Co. says that they “spent months looking at expansion places last year. In November, the stars aligned and one of our realtors listed the property at 115 Trexlertown Road. It was perfect for what we needed.”
One of the reasons that finding a building takes so long for new and expanding businesses is that there are regulations on what can and cannot be used at a location. Those regulations are called zoning ordinances. According to Millman National Land Services, ordinances exist to ensure proper land use, provide value to citizens who own property, protect the local environment and keep property values stable. For Nowhere Coffee Co., this meant that they had to find a building that was zoned for food production, or else they would not be allowed to use it.
When the company first identified the property at 1115 Trexlertown Road, the building seemed to comply with the zoning ordinances required to roast coffee. According to Nowhere Coffee Co., “It is zoned appropriately for what we are doing—Neighborhood Commercial. Our landlord is lovely and supportive of our business.” With everything seemingly in place for the opening of a new roastery, Nowhere Coffee Co. applied for a Business Use and Occupancy permit with Upper Macungie. Much to their surprise, however, the township denied their application, citing a zoning violation.
To add to the confusion, the township denied the application because the building was zoned ineligible to be used for “food processing,” which according to Nowhere Coffee Co., is not a term even listed in the zoning code. Making matters worse, there are a number of different food-adjacent businesses that are allowed to be at the building. For example, bakeries are included in the zoning code for 115 Tilghman St. This is especially frustrating considering that both coffee roasting and baking apply high heat to change the physical quality of the food.
This denial comes after Nowhere Coffee Co. had already begun the process of renovating the space to fit their business needs. Just this week, the company accepted delivery of their brand new Giesen coffee roaster. Those roasters are incredibly expensive, costing around $35,000 if not more. In the meantime, Nowhere Coffee Co. has stated that they will be moving the roaster to a location in Allentown while they figure out how to move forward with the 1115 Trexlertown Road location.
Mayor Matt Tuerk even said, “We got you in @allentowncitypa. Just come see us and we will get the ball rolling in the right direction.”
The company is allowed to appeal the decision, and they have decided to follow through with an appeal. The appeal does not come cheap, though, costing $800. As of now, the date of the zoning appeal hearing has been scheduled for Mar. 13, a full “51 days into their 60 allowed timeframe” to hear the appeal. Furthermore, the delay comes at a “critical time in our business’ growth,” the company has stated.
With little information as to why their permit was rejected, Nowhere Coffee Co. is finding it difficult to prepare for their upcoming hearing. They have regularly been posting updates about the process on their Instagram page @nowherecoffeeco in hopes of raising awareness about their situation. In the meantime, for those wanting to support Nowhere Coffee Co., they said that the best way to support them is to continue buying coffee, getting gift cards for friends and spreading the word about their coffee shop.