Brad and Tricia Heys shared their first kiss outside of 345 Lincoln Street, what is now Kava Haus. The two had been working together at Kings Island over the summer, and Brad had a mutual friend orchestrate a party so he could tell Tricia how he felt. Years later, they had the opportunity to tour the building again when it went up for sale with the sole intention of reminiscing old memories, but when they showed up, the sellers remembered the couple and were adamant about selling them the building. Brad and Tricia offered what they could afford, and the rest is history.
Brad’s original idea was to open a “gourmet hot dog stand”, but Tricia thought the building was too beautiful and they pivoted to coffee without any prior experience—other than Brad bartending on weekends at The General Denver under Jen Purkey for 10 years. “Being a barista and bartending, the only difference is the strength of the drink” says Brad.
The name ‘Kava Haus’ pulls from Brad’s Slovak heritage, “Kava”, meaning “Coffee”, and Tricia’s German heritage, “Haus”, meaning “House”. The two moved into the Kava Haus building with their kids and grew the business slowly. Some evenings they would be eating dinner as a family and have to stop and serve a customer who walked in. They expanded to a second location in Xenia in 2022 when their daughter noticed a coffee shop that she frequented closed. Brad met with the owner to lease the space, then the owner sold him the building 3 months later. Brad has even made space at their Wilmington location for music teachers to give lessons after For A Song and A Story closed next door.
Though Brad and Jen, his old boss, remained good friends throughout the years, their schedules made it hard to connect until recently when the two started discussing ideas of opening a new restaurant (not for gourmet hot dogs—”the women in my life won’t let me” Brad says). Those conversations became a catalyst for Jen becoming a partner at Kava Haus and expanding their menu. “We have as much fun experimenting with the recipes as anything” says Brad. They recently released a from-scratch waffle with homemade maple butter that can be ordered as a sandwich called a ‘Wammie’. Other new menu items include quiches, salads, and cakes, as well as monthly dinners by reservation only. For more information follow their Facebook.