Penny's offers coffee, event space on the Holton Square
Erin and Dr. Vance Lassey of Holton have transformed the former J.C. Penney building on the west side of the Holton Square into a coffee shop with a large event space available for receptions, parties and other special occasions.
Penny’s, which is a nod to the department store that occupied the building for many years, opened Nov. 5 after undergoing major remodeling. Previous businesses that occupied that space included All Around Sweets-n-Eats and Wilhelm Heating and Hardware.
“Vance and I had been thinking about opening a reception space when we first moved here eight years ago,” Erin said. “We saw that there was a need, and we’d been to many weddings locally where the receptions were held out of town.”
The Lasseys considered building something new, but then snatched up the former J.C. Penney building at 409 New York when All Around Sweets-n-Eats closed last fall.
“The building is 4,500-square feet, and I didn’t want to offer just an event space because I didn’t want it sitting empty a lot of the time,” she said. “By opening the coffee shop, we’re able to have a dual purpose.”
Built in 1938, the building housed J.C. Penney for many years, and during the remodeling, the Lasseys kept the original floors and some exposed brick walls.
“Our main counter is original and was refinished,” Erin said. “I’ve been told that it was possibly a watch counter.”
New bathrooms and walls were constructed to separate the event space from the coffee shop.
“We did a lot of the work ourselves and spent many late nights here,” she said.
The Lasseys serve PT’s Coffee at Penny’s, which is a roasting company based in Topeka. While she serves regular and decaf coffee, the menu also includes mochas, lattes, frappes and macchiatos. The business also offers cold brewed coffee.
Other drinks available include Italian sodas, flavored ice tea (sweet and unsweetened) and lemonade, smoothies and hot chocolate. Kid-friendly drinks are available, and a play area has been set up on the upper level of the building that also has tables for moms to sit and enjoy their drinks, Erin said.
Erin offers a variety of baked goods, including quiche, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, cookies, muffins and a breakfast ham and cheese pastry. Oatmeal-to-go items are also available for purchase.
“I bake everything myself,” Erin said, noting that the building is equipped with a full kitchen. “I can also fulfill special orders if you give me a day or two.”
Erin said that cupcakes are her specialty, with such flavors as Biscoff (which is a graham cracker type cookie) and pink lemonade.
Penny’s is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
“We’ll be open during special events on the Square, like Second Saturdays or movie night,” she said.
The open reception area includes refinished hardwood flooring, a built-in sound system, custom lighting and a hardwired projector.
“We’re set up for training and workshops, as well as weddings, Christmas parties and reunions,” she said. “The room can sit 150 people around tables and chairs, which we provide, as well as tablecloths. If we just we’re setting up chairs, we could probably hold 250 people.”
Rental prices vary depending on the needs of the event and how long it’s being used for, Erin said.
The event space was used in October to host the dinner theatre production, as well as a concert by regional artists.
Erin can offer her baking and coffee services for events but allows those renting the space to bring in their own caterer.
The Lasseys have lived in Holton for eight years. They have two children, Luke, 7; and Rebekah, 5.
For more information about Penny’s, call 785-362-6043 or email email@example.com.