Coffee Conversations: DeKalb leaders on the challenges and successes of serving their community

Jason Waller, the owner of “Waller’s Coffee Shop, says he always saw coffee as a vehicle to connect with his community. (LaShawn Hudson/WABE)

Jason Waller says he always saw coffee as a vehicle to connect with his community.

The small business owner opened the doors of Waller’s Coffee Shop in unincorporated Dekalb County four years ago with a focus on music, coffee and mental health.

Over the past few years, faced with a global pandemic and skyrocketing inflation, Waller says it’s been a struggle to keep the doors of the venue open. But with continued community support and a lot of quick and creative pivoting, he says the coffee shop has remained a staple.

“Every time we’ve got into a tight spot like I said, something magical has happened,” said Waller. “I believe the intention of this place and the heart of this place is separate from me now.  And another thing I’m proud of now is I’ve created something that is taking care of itself and it’s the community input, making those magical connections.”

On Thursday’s edition of “ Closer Look,” for the April installment of Coffee Conversations, Waller spoke about his love for community and his commitment to serving more than coffee.

“We’re a coffee shop, a customer service business— I want to make your day,” said Waller.

Following the conversation with Waller, Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett talked with about the rapid growth of  Decatur and how she’s working to address school overcrowding, traffic and affordable housing.

“Right now, there’s very little inventory; there’s not a lot,” said Mayor Garrett. “We have a desirable school system, we’re small and so we are having to find other ways to try to have affordability with a land trust, with the Missing Middle.”

Garret further explained the importance of making strong decisions now that will support future generations of Decatur.

Dan Whisenhunt, the founder and editor of Decaturish, talked about covering some of the biggest news stories in Decatur and DeKalb County and explained why he feels the future of local journalism is strong.

 “You can’t go out and have coffee with the person who’s telling you the news on CNN. You can probably find me at any coffee shop,” said Whisenhunt.