What started as a long running joke between best friends led Rena Antosz to name her Harmony Township coffee shop the Blue Canary.
She and her college roommate would joke about the song “Birdhouse in Your Soul,” by the band They Might Be Giants.
“We used to laugh and laugh, and listen to it in college. It’s just very silly. It always made us laugh.”
About five years ago, Antosz bought the friend a blue canary nightlight. In return, Antosz’s friend suggested that if she ever owned a coffee shop, she call it Blue Canary.
“So that’s what I did,” said Antosz of Baden, who operates the shop with her husband, Steve.
The Blue Canary recently marked one year of operations at 2751 Duss Avenue and held a celebration with customers on Black Friday, the official anniversary date of the coffee shop’s beginning.
“Everybody came out and supported us. It was cool,” Rena Antosz said.
She studied art in college, but fell into the coffee business by chance. She honed her skills as a “barista extraordinaire” when she worked for seven to eight years in a small coffee shop in Butler.
“I really loved it,” said Rena, who also calls herself a coffee ninja. “I have a lot of ideas.”
A Butler native, Rena, 32, and husband, Steve, 28, a South Park native, purchased a home in Baden to put equal distance between her job and his full-time job in Canonsburg.
The couple later opened Blue Canary, which is open daily and serves hot and cold beverages like smoothies, coffee and teas, including more than 30 loose leaf teas. Rena Antosz said their specialty is that they make all of their own flavors from scratch – chocolate, caramel, pumpkin, cinnamon made from sticks.
“Everything is real, all real sugar – no high fructose corn syrup. Even with some of the flavors like vanilla, orange and almond, I use extracts, but I won’t use imitation extracts because it freaks me out, so we use all pure extracts.”
In addition to drinks, the shop carries light eats like doughnuts, oatmeal and gluten-free snacks. And they carry hand-made gift items on consignment such as jewelry, books and art, that customers can peruse.
“When we opened we didn’t have anything on the walls or anything on the shelves. We just kept saying the artists will find us,” Rena Antosz.
“Yes, we didn’t need to approach anyone,” Steve Antosz added. “We just mentioned it to everybody that came through and then, in maybe two months, our shelves were full.”
Steve Antosz works behind the counter at times, but said he has turned into the maintenance person at the business. The duo has tried random event – karaoke, game nights, tried open mic nights and say they are always open to new ideas.
Rena Antosz said they hope to add more creative classes, such as knitting, sewing and an upcoming mosaic-making class on Dec. 17, and they want to have movie night.
She said they also want to be more involved in the community. A yoga instructor for about three years, Rena Antosz also teaches yoga at Yoga Edge in Ambridge.
“We’re doing everything we can. We attended Community Day in Baden, Apple Fest, Fall Festival, and I’m helping with Christmas on Merchant.”
With a growing number of regulars, Rena Antosz said the coffee shop has “definitely” become its own version of Cheers.
“We have our own little coffee community and I love being a part of that,” she said.
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