LaResa Likes has spent much of her life working in the food service industry. As the owner of Great Bend Coffee in the historic Masonic building on Lakin Avenue, it’s the people she serves that make the job her passion.
Likes became owner of the coffee shop seven years ago after an attempt to purchase a restaurant in a different community. When that did not work out, the real estate agent presented her the opportunity to buy the shop from Paul and Barb Wagner.
She admits that she never drank much coffee, but she said she always wanted to own a restaurant and enjoys making and baking a variety of homemade foods. It was the chance to do this that was much of the original attraction to the shop.
Though restaurant ownership was new, food service was her life. Likes was a waitress and a cook in high school, and continued working as a waitress and a school cook in Lewis into her adult years. After moving to Great Bend from Belpre 18 years ago, she spent time working at Applebee’s and in the dietary department at what was then Great Bend Regional Hospital after it first opened.
But a love for people drew her into the restaurant business, and it is the people, she said, that keep her doing the work. “I love making people happy.”
Likes tries to offer much more than just standard coffee shop fare. The restaurant serves baked goods and a full breakfast and lunch menu.
Her goal is to provide a home atmosphere where people can come in and relax, play cards, or just visit with friends a few hours. As a grandmother to 18 grandchildren, she keeps toys in the back of the coffee shop so kids have a place to play while their parents sit and chat over coffee or food.
“I need it to feel like it’s not an up-tight kind of place,” she said.
She enjoys having an atmosphere where she knows many of the customers by name, and knows exactly what they want.
Being a small-town coffee shop, she strives to be flexible and offer just about anything the customers ask for. In particular, she said she has a heart for seniors, for whom she still provides discounted take-home meals.
She likes the “do your own thing” flexibility of owning a small business in a smaller community, and the freedom to do the extra little things for customers. “People just really like that you’re willing to go that extra mile for them.”
Great Bend Coffee is located at 2015 Lake Ave. in Great Bend. It can be found on Facebook, and the telephone number is 620-603-6465.