For a number of years now, my good friend Geoff Wichert and I get together once a week to write. We’ve frequented many coffee shops along the Wasatch Front and our favorite place to put pen to paper—sometimes literally—is Watchtower Coffee & Comics. It’s from the friendly and inspiring atmosphere of this establishment that I’m writing this article.
I don’t recall when being a geek/nerd became in vogue but I’m glad it did. My second date with the woman who would become my wife was within those familiar walls. It’s where we opened up to each other, laid all our proverbial cards on the table, and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. From there, we chose to take the good with the not-so-bad and started a wonderful journey together.
Vulnerability is something that tends to go hand-in-hand with identifying oneself as an unapologetic geek. Growing up, the geeks and nerds are the ones who stand out from the crowd. Their “peculiar” interests and fandom wind up making them targets for bullies. Having a safe place to retreat wasn’t just important, it felt like a matter of survival. A place where we could enjoy playing with our action figures without judgment, or escape into the adventures of our beloved comic book heroes.
Walking into Watchtower takes us back to that time in our lives when the most important things in life were eagerly awaiting the release of that next comic book issue, or figuring out how to get your favorite action figures out of the hopeless predicaments you imagined for them. At the same time, it’s a reminder of the fear and uncertainty that we felt when we stood alone at the bus stop or on the playground, not knowing when the bullies would come back and trying to comfort yourself with the knowledge that the school day would eventually end and you could get back to the safety of the stories, comics and toys that we loved and knew would never judge us.
Those feelings of poignant nostalgia are not lost on Watchtower’s proprietors, Mike and Cori, who “…named the shop after the headquarters of The Justice League, a reference to the place where heroes gather together and stand as beacon[s] of hope and safety…” and refer to the establishment as “…a safe and comfortable space for the community.”
Watchtower has started a crowdfunding campaign to support their efforts to move to a new location that will be a better fit for their business model and the community.
Some might think it unusual to crowdfund such a venture, but Watchtower Coffee & Comics is more than just a local business. It’s a center for the community that actively supports local artists and charities, strives to use locally sourced ingredients for its delicious and cleverly monikered beverages and stocks their shelves with products purchased from local vendors.
The deadline to reach their “all-or-nothing” goal is June 6, 2019 at 9:00 AM. Like any respectable and successful crowdfunding campaign, Watchtower is offering some pretty cool rewards, such as T-shirts, coffee mugs and pint glasses, to backers of their campaign, all bearing original artwork by artists like Derek Hunter, Punky Aloha, and Chelsea Maki.
Born in Los Angeles and residing in Salt Lake City, Joe Puente is the founder of the Utah Filmmakers™ Association and a U.S. Navy veteran.