Local coffee shop Elixir Vitae, known for its chai lattes, diverse clientele and creative wall art shut its doors on Dec. 20 after almost two decades. Located across the street from Nickels Arcade and thought of by many loyal customers as a hidden gem of Ann Arbor, the store’s regulars lamented its closing.
LSA senior Ola Amokomowo, Elixir regular, said she will miss many things about the cafe, including its teas and the welcoming community.
“It’s honestly so upsetting,” Amokomowo said. “I just recently became a regular, actually. I heard about it at the beginning of my senior year, and it got to the point where I was going almost every day basically because they have the best London Fog I’ve ever had in my life. You just knew that your business mattered. I felt like a part of something bigger than myself.”
According to loyal customers, Elixir stood out from Ann Arbor’s many local coffee shops because of its staff and warm environment. Amokomowo elaborated on her own Elixir experience, calling Elixir a “standout.”
“It really was a local standout place. It felt homey. I knew that they cared about my day, I cared about the baristas’ day,” Amokomowo said. “I really loved it. I enjoyed being there so much, and I’m pretty sad that it’s gone.”
Jimmy Curtiss worked at Elixir Vitae as a barista for 15 years. He said he valued Elixir’s community-oriented values.
“It really was a townie coffee shop that I feel like didn’t actually cater to any specific demographic. It was just kind of for everyone which was really, really cool,” Curtiss said. “It was its own little insular universe, and it was just bizarre, because it was this isolated, self-contained space, and yet it was so close to campus.”
The owner of Elixir Vitae did not respond to The Daily’s request for comment on why the coffee shop closed in time for publication.
LSA junior Basil Alsubee, another Elixir regular said he was impressed by the cafe’s hospitality, especially with customers experiencing homelessness.
“It’s just a very homey, unpretentious, welcoming place for me,” Alsubee said. “I don’t know a coffee shop in Ann Arbor that’s been as kind to the homeless population in Ann Arbor as Elixir.”
Alsubee also noted he appreciated how accepting of everyone the atmosphere is.
“As a Muslim, I have five prayers every day … and Elixir was actually one of the very few places where I did that quite regularly and at some point the baristas noticed, and they actually were so kind to bring me a small little prayer rug that was in the corner of the coffee shop that I regularly used,” Alsubee.
LSA senior Leena Ghannam said Ann Arbor is losing several small local businesses like Elixir and, with them, a sense of familiarity and belonging.
“It had accumulated a really strong base of people who would go there frequently, and so it’s kind of sad because once the place leaves, the community leaves with it. It’s no longer essentialized,” Ghannam said. “I think it’s a real shame, especially because a lot of other, older businesses in Ann Arbor have been shutting down in the past five years, and I think they’re being replaced by a lot of larger corporations.”