Something Strange Is Brewing
Strange Brew Owners Talk Success of Greenwood’s Oldest Coffee Shop
Writer: Seth Johnson
Photographer: Mark Bell
Daniel and Toni Carr have seen a lot transpire in their 14 years of owning Strange Brew coffee house in Greenwood.
“We’ve seen friendships and business relationships, and people go on their first date and get married,” Toni says. “We’ve seen the whole gamut, and it’s pretty amazing to be part of that.”
Located at 4800 Smith Valley Road in Greenwood, Strange Brew has become a staple of its community, offering residents with a uniquely local coffee shop experience. Founded in 2004, Strange Brew serves fresh, locally-roasted coffee, as well as light lunch sandwiches, breakfast items and assorted treats.
Long before their days of running Strange Brew together, Dan and Toni crossed paths because of their involvement in music.
“We met playing in rock bands, actually,” says Toni, who played in the band Chuck Marten. “For four or five years, we saw each other and never said a word to each other, and then we just started talking one night.”
After getting married and discovering their shared love for coffee, they decided to open up a shop in Greenwood.
“Dan used to live in Italy and Seattle, so he had an interest in coffee,” Toni says. “I had an interest in the culture, and I kind of wanted to start a coffee shop before I even met him. But then, we both kind of became addicted to coffee, and there wasn’t a good coffee shop in Greenwood. We were driving to Bloomington every weekend for coffee.”
In the beginning, Dan remembers working hours upon hours to get things off the ground at Strange Brew.
“We worked open to close,” he says. “I worked in IT at St. Vincent Health. So I would come in the morning and help open, and then I would go to work. Then, I would come back here and help close. She stayed here basically every day and every hour we were open for a few years.”
During the shop’s early years, Toni also had another revelation that was not related to coffee.
“She helped found the Naptown Roller Girls,” Dan says. “Her and two other girls started the whole thing here at Strange Brew.”
Uneasy about his wife pursuing this hobby, Dan decided he should get involved with the Naptown Roller Girls in some fashion as well.
“Toni said, ‘I’m gonna start a roller derby league,’ and I said, ‘That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. You’re gonna get hurt,’” Dan recalls. “She said, ‘I’m doing it,’ so I said, ‘Well okay, I better help then.’”
This is why he’s now the announcer for the Naptown Roller Girls.
“I was going to ref, but that’s too hard,” Dan says. “So I decided to announce, and I’ve been the announcer ever since.”
As for the coffee shop, the couple is grateful for all the support they’ve received over the years.
“Businesses come and go so quickly, so it’s great that this community has embraced us,” says Toni, who is now also well known for writing knitting books. In the end, she believes the community is what has shaped Strange Brew to be what it is today.
“The vibe kind of comes more from the customers than us,” Toni says. “We have local artwork and are really community-driven, and our vibe just comes from all the cool people that come in and hang out and work from here every day.”
Strange Brew is located at 4800 Smith Valley Road in Greenwood. You can visit them online at strangebrewcoffee.com and give them a call at 317-881-5282.