From Los Angeles to Ravenswood, the Brito sisters make their mark with Steaming Cup Cafe
In 2010, Mileny Brito found herself without a job. Rent at her Los Angeles, California, apartment was $1,100 a month — she knew she couldn't stay. After calling friends and pulling strings, she got a job in Jackson County. She said she thought she'd stay for a few months, just long enough to get back on her feet and for the market to settle in Los Angeles. She hasn't looked back since.
Her sister, Lolbe Brito, came from Los Angeles to visit in March 2020. Shortly after arriving, the COVID-19 lockdown began. She was stuck in Ravenswood with her newborn and toddler. After a few months, her husband moved to Ravenswood, and they haven't looked back since.
"That was the push that I needed," Lolbe said.
Mileny co-owns Las Fajitas Mexican Grill in Ravenswood. She and her husband opened the restaurant about a year ago, and Lolbe works there as a waitress. Mileny said she's been so happy with the community's response to Las Fajitas.
The success of the restaurant, coupled with the sisters' desire to bring more life to Ravenswood, sparked an idea: they wanted to open their own coffee shop.
The Brito sisters are going into business together. About five months ago, they approached Ravenswood's mayor Josh Miller about opening a coffee shop in town. He was ecstatic about the idea and showed them a vacant unit on Washington Street.
In his free time, Miller enjoys flipping units downtown and leasing them out. He said he wants to make the town "bumping" again, and a coffee shop would do just that. Mileny and Lolbe signed the lease and now they're in business together.
Their eyes are tired, but their smiles are optimistic. It's crunch time: they will spend the next two weeks finalizing the menu and recipes before the shop opens.
The shop's old, blue carpet floors are now a sleek gray. The once dark and gloomy walls are now a bright and energetic white with a greenery accent wall in the back and a butterfly mural to the left.
Lolbe said when they were renovating, they wanted to incorporate a touch of Los Angeles into their little Ravenswood shop. The mural was inspired by the City of Angels. The wings fade from pink to purple from the top to the bottom. Within the wings are trademarks of Ravenswood: the bridge, River Front Park, the Ohio River and the phrase Wild and Wonderful.
The Brito sisters want to be as accommodating as possible for their future customers. The two haven't finalized a menu yet, but they know they will offer everything from cappuccinos and americanos to espresso shots and black coffee. On top of that, the sisters will offer frappuccinos, smoothies, boba and iced tea.
Mileny said she wants the store to match the activeness of the people in Ravenswood. She always sees people running downtown or walking around at the River Front Park.
She said it's important that Steaming Cup Cafe reflects that and offers a variety of drinks. That's why the Brito sisters are working on creating sugar-free and protein smoothie options for the cafe. The cafe will also offer sandwiches like paninis and pastries.
After they finish their shifts at the restaurant, they walk down to the cafe and practice making drinks. Lolbe said it's been hard going to sleep lately because she's filled with caffeine by the time her head hits the pillow.
Neither of the sisters ever thought or planned on living in Jackson County, but they said they can't wait to bring a new business to Ravenswood.
"We'll just be glad to be part of like the beginning of bigger things coming into the future of Ravenswood," Mileny said.
The Brito sisters haven't nailed down an official opening date, but Mileny said they want to open either the last week of June or the first week of July.
— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.