The business name says it all — “Climbing Cafe.”
It’s a new indoor climbing gym, paired with the aroma and caffeine of coffee as well as smoothies and fresh fruits, that’s slated to open in July next door to Top Guns just off U.S. 41 and Seventh Street in Terre Haute.
“My wife [Taunya] and I were, 60 pounds ago and four kids ago, into gym climbing when we lived in Arizona. We were both in the [U.S.] Air Force,” said Sam Morgan, owner of the new cafe.
“I was over talking to Steve Ellis [owner of the Top Guns building] about drones and saw the space there. I asked what are you going to do with this empty space. He said he wanted a coffee shop. I thought you should make it a rock climbing gym,” Morgan said.
So, Morgan said, his business model will incorporate all three — climbing, coffee and smoothies.
Dedicated climbing facilities have been around for decades, yet the move to add additional amenities, especially coffee, has been on the increase for the past eight years.
It’s a trend that is not unique to the United States — “from the Castle Climbing Centre in England to Grizzly Coffee & Climbing in Japan, ‘coffee culture’ has spread to all corners of the world, and so too has this coffee/gym combo,” according to an April 2017 report from Climbing Business Journal (www.climbingbusinessjournal.com).
And coffee is a way to diversify revenue, plus Morgan plans to have a retail store offering climbing gear.
“I think most people are paying for experiences now instead of stuff,” Morgan said.
“This is opportunity for people to do the climbing experience, build some confidence and maybe branch out into outdoor activities,” Morgan said.
“I am definitely a pro-U.S. kinda of guy and I like a pro-U.S., pro-Second Amendment coffee and smoothie option, safe place for people to go and is very family friendly,” Morgan said. “I am pushing for a ‘Chick-fil-A’ vibe, so when you go in there, you feel welcome and respected.”
Morgan has some climbers in Terre Haute that will provide class training and will change routes, “so it is never the same wall every week that you go on. There is a ranking system. We will be teaching basics on climbing. There are some good areas about two to three to four hours away that people may want to do outdoor climbing.”
Additionally, Morgan said there are about five to seven other indoor climbing options in Indiana after they experience his Climbing Cafe, such as Hoosier Heights Bloomington and Climb Time Indy.
“I love the climbing gym network. It is a nice family to join. Everybody likes to take care of each other and challenge each other, usually in a pretty friendly competition,” Morgan said.
Canadian-based IMPACT Climbing Inc. is constructing the climbing walls and infrastructure for the 6,488 square-foot business. The wall will be shipped and then finished on site. That company will use steel-framed structures, 13-ply furniture-grade birch plywood, and a proprietary “VelvetGRIP” surface texture for exceptional grip and friction, Morgan said.
Two-thirds of the space is for climbing, with a third of the space for the coffee cafe, featuring Rex Coffee.
Morgan and his family moved to Terre Haute in mid 2014, where he served as the Air Force ROTC Detachment Commander for nearly two years at Indiana State University, before becoming a director/instructor of unmanned systems at ISU. He is leaving that position after three years. He served in the Air Force for 26 years.
For more information on the Climbing Cafe, including planned hours and costs, visit www.climbingcafe.com.