Luke and Autumn Pruitt’s journey started when they moved back to their hometown of Omaha in 2010 and started a small bakery.
In those first few years, they subleased a kitchen and a tiny storefront from Aromas Coffeehouse on the corner of 11th and Jones St. A year and a half later, they purchased the coffee shop now known as Hardy Coffee Co., which has expanded to three additional locations.
“There’s just no more authentic way to bring people together than around really good food and really good coffee,” Autumn Pruitt said.
Their four coffee shops are located at 14450 Meadows Blvd. in Chalco; 2112 N 30th St. in Highlander; 6051 Maple St. in Benson and 1031 Jones St. located downtown.
Pruitt grew up with people always in the kitchen, and it eventually grew into a passion. She decided she wanted to make a career out of making really good food and coffee for people. She describes it as “a way that would connect people that maybe didn’t know each other before.”
After opening their second location in Benson, they started roasting their own coffee in 2015 for their shops and now have 30 wholesaler accounts that have continued to grow consistently over the years.
They are constantly perusing wholesale accounts and finding ways to offer their fresh and expertly roasted coffee in other places in the region.
Roasting their own coffee has been a great way to partner with other local small businesses.
“We don’t necessarily want Hardy Coffee on every street corner, but ‘how do we partner with you to help make this piece of it excellent, local and approachable?’” Pruitt said.
Their house roast, The Benchmark Blend, seems to be a fan favorite for one main reason: it’s just a really good cup of coffee.
“If people are used to drinking Folgers, this is an elevated baby step into specialty coffee,” Pruitt said.
If you purchase a bag of it off the shelf, it works great as an espresso, cold brew or drip coffee at home, too.
“We work really hard to create something that would be missed if it was ever gone,” Pruitt said.
During the last two years as things were up in the air due to COVID-19, Hardy’s customers rallied around the company. People voted with their dollars during COVID to make sure the coffee company would stay successful.
“It means a ton to me,” Pruitt said. “We’ve hopefully created something of value that people want to see around for a long time.”
Along with the coffee, they still have a strong bakery component, which is mainly at their Highlander location in North Omaha. Their cinnamon and pecan rolls are top sellers, but they also have a variety of delicious muffins, as well as anything from birthday cakes to soft pretzels.
“Everything is made on site from scratch in our bakery, and then we distribute it to our own shops every day,” Pruitt said.
In the last two years, they have transitioned a lot of their products to online purchasing, which makes it easy for people to do preorders through their website. They not only deliver here in Omaha, but also to friends and family across the country.
“It’s been a more convenient way for people to support a small business,” Pruitt said.
They also partner with other coffee shops and restaurants like Sunnyside on Center, a relatively new breakfast place in South Omaha that sells Hardy’s cinnamon rolls every day.
“We try really hard to be both excellent and approachable,” Pruitt said.
They offered free delivery for anything on their online store during the pandemic and discovered a variety of customers in South and West Omaha. They ended up opening their first drive-thru location in November 2021 in Chalco.
“We see everything from moms walking in with strollers, to a lot of college students,” Pruitt said. “Young, old, and everything in between, we just love being a gathering spot for people in the neighborhood.”
On their website, you can find a variety of products and sign up for a monthly coffee subscription for $17 a month. This is an effort to make life easier by delivering their coffee right to your door.