BYRON – Blink and you might miss it.
It is in a trailer parked just west of Sam’s Drive-In Restaurant in Byron, directly across the street from Casey’s General Store. It’s a small trailer that says, “Drive Thru Coffee” on it.
That is the Black Pearl Coffee Shop, and it has been open in Byron since Oct. 15. It is open Monday through Friday from 6-9 a.m. only, but it seems to be getting some attention from local coffee lovers.
“We have one gentleman who has been here every day that we’ve been open,” said owner Ken Foss, who lives in Byron and also own McKendrie Street Café in Mount Morris.
Foss said he got the idea on a trip to the state of Oregon with his son, where similar businesses are located. He said he bought an old Pepsi trailer in Missouri to use, and rents the space it sits on from the owner of Sam’s. A generator is used to power the operation.
After he closes for the day, Foss stores the trailer nearby.
The Black Pearl sells coffee, chai, hot chocolate and some iced drinks along with muffins and mixed fruit.
Foss said the coffee comes from Java Mania in Rockford, which supplies other businesses in the region. The coffee beans are roasted as needed, he said.
So why Byron?
“It just has the traffic from Rockford going to Oregon,” said Morgan Lawler, who works for Foss. “It’s like the middle of everywhere. Also, the nuclear plant. It’s just a busy town.”
On opening day, the first customer drove up at 7:15 a.m. after seeing the sign planted in the ground next to the trailer. Since then, business has been better every day, Foss said.
Foss said Ogle County is in need of the convenience of a drive through coffee business. He said besides the Dunkin’ Donuts in Rochelle, the Black Pearl is the only other drive-through coffee business.
“Ogle County doesn’t have a designated drive through coffee facility,” he said.
As the trailer is not insulated, Foss said the plan is to stay open through November, and then close down until the first of March.
He also said the city of Byron was very helpful and great to work with while trying to get his business open.
Now, it is up to those coffee lovers driving through town.
“I think it’s going to work,” Foss said. “So far we’ve had positive feedback from every person.”