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Holladay Journal

Tea, coffee shops providing sense of community in Holladay

Feb 22, 2022 09:01PM ● By Sona Schmidt Harris

A lively laptop scene at 3 Cups is a daily occurrence. (Sona Schmidt-Harris/City Journals)

By Sona Schmidt-Harris | [email protected]

Warmth, conviviality and fun are alive and well on Holladay Boulevard. Just head on over to Auntie Rae’s or 3 Cups for a lively atmosphere, a tea or coffee, and a sense of belonging—even if you’re alone. 

A sense of community and connection was one of the reasons Raelynn Potts (Auntie Rae) opened her tea and sweets shop in 2015. “The tea and what you drink is less important than the fact that you come, you sit, you reconnect,” Potts said. “And it’s made to be slow and restorative.”

Potts’ tea parties have grown in popularity, and it provides her with great satisfaction. “I’ve had all kinds of stories about sweet memories,” she said. “Sad, but sweet memories, where somebody said, ‘My mother brought us all here, and then a month later, she was diagnosed with cancer, and then we lost her.’”

Potts believes that the historic home in which Auntie Rae’s is located adds to the enjoyment of the tea party experience. “So, when you come in and have a tea party, you’ll have your own private room, and the house is small,” she said. “So, you’re only in common spaces for a short time before you get to your space.”

It’s not just the tea parties that are popular. Potts’ desserts are only growing in popularity due in part to one of her bakers, Cathy Rogers.

“I’ve always been a home baker,” Rogers said. “I get to be creative, and I have contact with people who come in,” she said of her position.

Cookie sundaes and fudge cake are among the favorites. “And then our pies are very popular,” Potts said. “We focus on fresh, individual portioning.” The shop has learned to keep triple berry and peach on hand along with “apple hand pie,” a version of an apple turnover.

Potts credits the success of Auntie Rae’s in part to the people of Holladay. “Holladay residents are very committed to small businesses—supporting them, engaging with them—making sure they’re doing well,” she said. “You can tell in their interactions with you.”

Proprietors Lisa Dickman and Derek Belnap feel the same way. Opened in 2014, 3 Cups coffee house has been a steady success. “I think we’ve been able to create a space in what is historically a pretty conservative area where people from all walks of life can feel at home or feel welcome,” Dickman said. “I think we’ve established ourselves as sort of a living room space for people here.”

This is apparent when walking into 3 Cups. Junior high school students and the laptop-working crowd sit side-by-side in an energetic atmosphere.

The shop was literally built upon the work of Dickman’s father. “This actual space was a business that my dad had when we were growing up,” she said. “And so, it kind of felt like it was meant to be a little when the opportunity came.”  Dickman’s father’s shop was Video Vern’s.

Derek Belnap had been in the coffee business for over a decade, and opening a shop was something about which he had thought frequently. Belnap and Dickman were once married and continue to work as business partners.

Evenings, 3 Cups switches from its regular menu to a charcuterie menu, to “more of a wine and cheese type atmosphere,” Dickman said. If you come in on the weekend, there is often a brunch-type feel to the place.

Outside of espresso drinks, which are the bread and butter for 3 Cups, popular menu choices include the avocado toast and cinnamon rolls. 

3 Cups also gives back to the community with Monday night workshops that can cover everything from wine and spirit classes to mental health topics. Additionally, there is live music on Friday nights.

Whether it’s a tea party, a coffee-driven laptop session, or drinks with friends, Auntie Rae’s and 3 Cups are go-to Holladay destinations.