After five years, Not Your Average Joe, a coffee hub in Dunlap, brewed its last cup on July 31.


After five years, Not Your Average Joe, a coffee hub in Dunlap, brewed its last cup on July 31.

Known for its fresh cup-o-joe, exposed brick, friendly staff and worry-free atmosphere, Joe’s was a place where the overall-clad farmer could meet up with Caterpillar CEOs, said owner Jeneen Masih.

“Coffee is the unifier,” said Masih. “It’s simple.”

What was not quite so simple: the steps needed to start a business. With a Master’s Law degree from the University of Miami, Masih compared the launch of NYAJ to another four-year degree.

It was a difficult time for Masih. In the same week, she had been recruited for Jim Maloof Realtor while finalizing a divorce. Driving down Second Street, she said she saw the “For Rent” sign in the window and “took a leap of faith.”

Having never done something like this — growing her business from the ground up — Masih was in for a wild, yet wonderful, ride. The life-changing roller coaster came to a halt July 31, bidding its final farewell with a pancake breakfast.

A loss to the community, NYAJ was “more than just a coffee shop,” said Masih. It was a place to mingle, to hang out, and to just be oneself. High school, undergraduate and graduate students would often come to the open-mic nights.

Joe’s was also a place to be looked after.

“None of us have anyone taking care of us anymore. We need that,” said Masih.

However, with visions of turning Second Street into another Peoria Heights, the coffee house did not have enough street traffic to survive. “It’s not pedestrian friendly,” Masih said. “When it gets dark here at 5 p.m. in fall, no one comes out.”

Derivation of the café’s name goes to Katherine Masih, daughter and barista, when she was 14. Not Your Average Joe, “it means you’re something different,” said owner Masih.

Now that the communal coffee joint has closed its doors, loyal customers such as Steve Goldman of Peoria say they are disappointed.

“I always look forward to stopping by. It’s a lovely little place,” Goldman said Saturday while sipping from a coffee smoothie.

So where will patrons go now for their daily dose of java?

Goldman said: “I don’t know, maybe we won’t.”