Inside of the Benson neighborhood lives an escape from reality, where childlike creativity and innovation have come together to create an experience that is vastly different than what you would expect from a coffee shop. Edge of the Universe is a coffee and cocktail shop, where everything is inspired by changing themes. When you enter Edge of the Universe you are greeted by a 12-foot-tall mural painted by one of the owners, Alex Van Odsel, along with other works by local artists. The smell of fresh pastries fills the air, as the sound of an espresso machine whirls in the background. Themed specialty cocktails adorn the bar. The themes are brilliantly put together with extravagant artwork, props, and decorations, taking the visitor to a new world.
The current theme of Edge of the Universe is Witches Brew, inspired by the Harry Potter books and movies. Guests can find a fireplace speckled with “floo powder”, a large “whomping willow” that hangs over the establishment, and various cauldrons filled with decorations and flowers. The store also offers replicas of wands from prominent characters in Harry Potter for purchase.
Rachel Evas, the main owner of Edge of the Universe explained that months, sometimes years, goes into planning the themes for the cafe. Each is carefully crafted with immense attention to detail, and a great amount of time is poured into perfecting each theme.
“I started buying pieces for our Witches Brew theme before we even opened it,” said Rachel.
Rachel opened Edge of the Universe with her partner, Alex Van Osdel in October of 2020. The store had originally planned to open in June of 2020, but the couple faced numerous setbacks due to the coronavirus pandemic, which caused the opening date to be pushed back a few months. They faced many issues with plumbing, construction, and set up due to only being able to have a limited number of people in the building at once. Rachel said that this time was extremely difficult for the couple, and that they often feared their business would succumb to the pandemic, like so many others did – especially since the business was brand new. Rachel said that she still often works 70 hours or more a week to maintain their business.
While the cafe and cocktail bar didn’t open until 2020, Rachel said that she had been dreaming of opening an art-based space that was inspired by different themes for years. Before opening her own business, Rachel worked in art galleries and exhibitions. Rachel said that she used art galleries as an influence for her business, because she loved the way that they were always evolving. She wanted to cultivate a space that was always changing to entice guests to continue coming back. With each new theme, Edge of the Universe also releases a new menu that is based off of their theme.
“Each new exhibit is my new favorite,” said Rachel when asked what theme she has liked best.
Rachel said that she also wanted to create a space that was not just a building, but a full experience for her guests. She has done this by implementing different events into their schedule, some of which include Trivia every Tuesday and Bingo every Wednesday. The weekly gatherings held by Edge of the Universe are completely free to the public, and are a fun way for Rachel and her employees to interact with guests. She has also ensured that her business is an open one that is inviting to all people, and that it provides a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community and other minorities.
“I want to have a place where the community tells me what they need,” said Rachel when asked what inspired her to make her business one that is conscious of diverse communities.
One of the ways that Rachel has made efforts into being a safe space is through the events that she holds. An upcoming event at Edge of the Universe is a speed dating event, that looks different from most. She plans to have “interest tables” where people can choose where to sit based on different topics. Pride flag stickers will also be provided in place of name tags.
Rachel hopes to one day franchise her business. She said that each Edge of the Universe would be filled with local art, pastries, and coffee from local businesses, and that no two would look the same. The business has been voted “Omaha’s Best Date Spot” by the Best of Omaha in 2020 and 2021.