A new brew in southwest Fort Wayne: The Hive offers community, coffee, & gluten-free treats

As the owner of the newest coffee shop in Southwest Fort Wayne, Jordanne Kilbourne hopes The Hive will become a hub for the community, and a week after opening, she says she’s already witnessed that dream turning into reality.

She stubbed across a building for sale in November of 2022 and fell in love with its location– nestled in a residential area with businesses scattered throughout. Seeing the potential in the former floral shop, Kilbourne got to work creating a spot where people could come for community and coffee.

The Hive Coffee Shop is located at 7120 Homestead Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46814.“It's been really cool since we've been open to see exactly that come to fruition,” she says. “We had some people working on DJ mixes. We had somebody knitting in the corner and we have lots of kids and dads and moms and so it's just been awesome to really kind of see it all come together.”

Kilbourne says it’s been a learning experience, but thanks to her 15 years of experience in nursing leadership, she feels comfortable managing the day-to-day responsibilities that come with owning a cafe. 

“I've been a coffee connoisseur, but I’ve never run a coffee shop,” Kilbourne says. “So this has been different, but we've been so blessed to have the most amazing staff join our team who have great experience. We’ve partnered with Utopian Roastery and they've provided so much training and support to get us up to speed on all of it.”

A bookshelf with a "take a book, borrow a book, leave a book" policy.The cafe, decked out in boho meets midcentury decor, features a variety of seating options, paintings of community landmarks, two outdoor seating areas, and a partially sectioned-off kid’s play area. One wall is dedicated to a fireplace, which features bookshelves with a “take a book, borrow a book, leave a book policy,” inspired by the book club Kilbourne is in.

The menu was created with their welcoming nature in mind. Kilbourne says she wanted people who don’t consider themselves coffee drinkers to be able to find something to enjoy at The Hive too.

“We have so many other options,” she says. “We have teas, smoothies, refreshers, energy drinks– so just a little bit for everyone.”

On the food menu, Kilbourne says customers can expect their offerings to grow, as they decided to open with a pared-down food menu.

“Right now we started with a more pared-down version of the food, just as we're trying to make sure that our coffee is on point in and all of our drinks as well,” she says. “Then as far as the food goes, we just really want to make sure that we're making really delicious things and we also have some healthy options as well.”

Customers will find all sorts of pastries and treats on the food menu, including a selection of baked goods from The Bread Guy and a variety of gluten-free options thanks to Lisa Gerardo, owner of Wild and Free Gluten Free Bakery, who is also Kilbourne’s former neighbor and fellow member of the aforementioned book club. 

The display case at The Hive features many gluten-free options.Gerardo was diagnosed with celiac disease about 10 years ago and had started baking gluten-free items long before The Hive was imagined up. But when she heard her neighbor’s plan for a shop, she thought a partnership might be in the cards for them.

“When she was talking about what she was going to do with this space and she landed on the coffee shop, I was like, kind of half-jokingly, ‘I should do your gluten-free baking,’” Gerardo says.

But the women talked through the potential partnership, what it could mean to offer gluten-free items, and decided it was a good idea, even if it was born from a joke.

Gerardo explains that as someone with celiac disease, she takes that gluten-free-ness seriously in the kitchen. While their kitchen is not certified gluten-free, they utilize two separate prep areas and use different utensils and equipment for gluten-free items and items that contain gluten. The Hive also serves gluten-free syrups in their drinks, making the coffee menu more accessible to those who can’t have gluten.

The Hive Coffee Shop is located at 7120 Homestead Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46814.“We just want to make sure that the gluten-free community has options for absolutely delicious food as well,” Kilbourne says. “It doesn't feel like they're in inconvenience. We want to make sure that everybody is able to be served to our greatest capacity.”

Having a local coffee shop that offers these options has been well-received by the community. Gerardo says in the week they’ve been open, she’s had a mom come in, nearly in tears, because her daughter could finally enjoy a coffee shop safely. 

As a baker, Gerardo says she’s looking forward to having an opportunity to experiment more with her craft and create specials or seasonal items for customers at The Hive. 

Kilbourne says even though she’s not gluten-free she loves Gerardo's creations.

“Truly, if you haven't tried yet, you need to because her stuff is absolutely delicious,” she says. “I am a gluten person and her scone, hands down, is my favorite. I could eat it every single day.”

Kilbourne and Gerardo say part of the expansion of food options will also include some grab-and-go items, like salads and sandwiches. Kilbourne says those options are helpful for moms, like herself, who can stop in for their morning coffee and lunch at the same time. Gerardo says having those gluten-free options is an even bigger win for moms like herself who can’t eat gluten.

Cups on the counter at The Hive.“I would say, you know, we've got great farm-to-table, like dinner options, but not really coffee shop options, not really like grab-and-go lunch options,” Gerardo says. “Just like when I'm out and about with my kids, I don't have great options. To be able to come grab a bagel or come grab something here– just would be awesome for the gluten-free people.”

Speaking of busy moms, the duo took inspiration from a coffee shop in southern Indiana, Lucabe’s, where parents can sit at a bar and see their children playing in an enclosed play space. The Hive’s play area features a similar setup. 

“It was just amazing to be able to like let them go in, play, and enjoy themselves while having a cup of coffee with whomever, your husband, friend or whatnot,” Kilbourne says of their visit to Lucabe’s. “So we tried to make a little coffee shop area for them. It’s a lot of free play, kind of that Montessori, like the hands-on type of thing, and so far, the kids have been loving it.”

Baristas fill orders at The Hive.The Hive’s Instagram has been hinting at an opening since the spring of last year and Kilbourne has been managing the shop’s renovations since 2022, making the opening highly anticipated by those following along. Since opening in late March, Kilbourne and Gerardo say they’ve been busier than they expected.

“We underestimated,” Kilbourne says. “But I just feel like so many people have been waiting and anticipating. We’ve had awesome feedback on our coffee and on our food. I’m hoping we can continue to deliver really big on consistency and quality…because that makes it a great experience.”

Kilbourne says she’s often asked about a drive-thru, which they do not have, but she offers hopes for those who want a quick coffee stop– their mobile order option will be up and running soon. 

In the meantime, Kilbourne says The Hive already feels like a success.

“I think success is just exactly what it is right now– people just coming and joining themselves and, you know, just a place that they're proud to have in their community and we're able to serve and meet the expectations that provide that high-quality service that they’re looking for,” she says.”

Customers at The Hive.The Hive is located at 7120 Homestead Road, Fort Wayne, IN 46814. They’re open Monday-Friday from 6:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., on Saturdays from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m., and on Sundays from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m.

Follow The Hive on Instagram here.

Follow Wild & Free Gluten Free Bakery on Instagram here.
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Read more articles by Brittany Smith.

Brittany Smith is Input Fort Wayne's Managing Editor. Previously she served as Assistant Editor and participated in the College Input Program. She also volunteers for Northeast Indiana Public Radio.