By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
Pastor Samantha Evans and her husband, Bishop Arthur Evans moved into the new location of their Shekinah Family Word Center through Quakoo Street in September 2018. Nearly three years later, they have added a coffee shop! Yes, a coffee shop in the over the hill community, with the Quakoo Street Police Station on one end and Mt. Pleasant Green Baptist Church on the other.
While you shouldn’t expect corn beef, sausage and grits at Shekinah Family Bucks, it’s the kind of place where you can find tuna melt or ham, egg and cheese on a flaky, buttery croissant; curry chicken wrap – now being served on Saturdays – bagels, loaded breakfast burritos, blueberry muffins, waffles, pink lemonade, white mocha and the list goes on. After all, the slogan is, Come Sip with Us.
Shekinah Family Bucks is home to a steady morning crew. The soulful, charming retreat attracts the likes of Certified Public Accountant, Kingman Ingraham and Progressive Liberal Party, Pinewood candidate, Myles Laroda. In fact, Mr. Laroda frequents so often there is a breakfast item named The Laroda in his honour. It’s scrambled eggs, waffles, bacon and fruits. There’s also The Kingman Blast, which consists of egg whites, bell peppers and a selection of fruits.
“Every morning we have doctors, lawyers, political candidates. The police come every morning. Even Progressive Liberal Party, Leader, Philip ‘Brave’ Davis was here. Walk-up customers are kind of blown away,” said Pastor Evans, whom I’ve affectionately called, “Sam” From childhood.
She told me about the soon-to-be opened coffee shop from months ago when we bucked in the food store. She has always been a bubbly person, but I saw this extra sparkle in her eyes and I knew I’d eventually blog about this new venture. When I recently stopped by on a Friday morning, there were seven men hanging out under the cabana. Apparently, they don’t come, order and leave. They literally hang out.
Although opened between 7 am and noon, any time between 7:30 and 10 in the morning, there would be up to about 20 patrons, Mondays through Fridays and recently Shekinah Family Bucks began opening on Saturdays.
They come to chat, exchange ideas…simply exhale before the daily grind. It’s a living, breathing community within a community, devoid of stigma. Those who come cross political, economic, social and religious divides.
It reminded me of the days when I was a College of The Bahamas – now University of The Bahamas – student and walked across the street into McDonald’s before an 8 am class. I would see the likes of then political activist Rodney Moncur – who eventually became a senator – and the late, Sir Arlington Butler, who at the time I entered college, was a former member of parliament, who later returned to active politics, followed by an appointment as Ambassador to the United States. That crew of noisy men, who sipped on coffee and ate hash browns, would discuss the latest Nassau Guardian headlines. They had differing opinions, but intelligently and respectfully discussed national issues.
Meanwhile, one might wonder why open a coffee shop when locally there are international coffee shop chains such as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, which have very loyal customers. However, don’t think Shekinah Family Bucks is living in the shadows of these famous, international coffee shops.
Why? Because they’re different.
Firstly, they are located over the hill. And yes, it’s a community riddled with crime and in many cases those who live below the poverty line. Yes, it is far from affluent. However, that has not halted the Evans’ dream of opening the coffee shop which was a vision for many years.
Additionally, Bishop Evans said the Lord spoke to him 10 years ago, giving him the name, Family Bucks. He received what was revealed to him to the point that when the renderings were drawn, there was a spot in the church’s foyer dubbed, Family Bucks. It was a dream deferred, but delay certainly doesn’t mean denial.
“My husband said, ‘Why not Quakoo Street? Why not over-the-hill?’ We are vested in this area. That speaks to our confidence and level of feeling safe. The community looks out for us,” said Pastor Evans.
The couple does all of the cooking and making of the coffee themselves. They are cook, barrister, cleaner, server, cashier – all in one.
Pastor Evans who fully supports her husband, noted that he believed then and he believes now that the coffee shop could be placed in the over-the-hill area and thrive.
“It’s putting something that we believe has great value over the hill so people can come and don’t have to go on the outskirts. We have all the syrups and beans and coffee to make different coffee for the enjoyment of our customers,” she said.
Besides pastoring a church, the couple is enjoying their new venture. They are coffee shop lovers themselves and whenever they travelled abroad, they made it a point to visit coffee shops. In previous years, they have even been judges for Starbucks barrister competition.
Interestingly, what was supposed to just be a kitchen for members of the church, evolved into a tuck shop selling nachos and cheese, hot dogs and other treats, to what exist today. Initially, there was a kitchen upstairs, but it became cumbersome travelling up and down the staircase. Then, a year-and-a-half ago, a kids’ cabana was constructed and Sunday School was held there. The Children’s Ministry raised almost $500 in pennies – the days before they went out of circulation – to pour the floor of the future coffee shop. In December 2020, an individual questioned the couple about what was being built, only to later donate $1,000 towards the cause.
Later, another generous donor from a family island, donated the tiles, stove, microwave and money for the sign.
“He believed in what we were doing. It was a big blessing. I call it, ‘The Million Dollar Coffee Shop.’ It’s a safe haven. Here, you will find good coffee and conversation,” said Pastor Evans.
“We could have waited until we could go bigger before opening, but we did it on faith. No matter how small you think you are, you can be effective,” said Pastor Evans.