Made in Uptown: Emerald City Uptown

For Emerald City Uptown owner Brian Osborne, buying a cup of coffee isn’t just that. Rather, spending even just a few dollars locally can add up to some profound change.

Why Uptown? When he lived in Texas, Brian spent a lot of time at Mojo’s, a 24-hour coffee shop. The memories were so vivid that when he began looking to expand Emerald City, his popular Lakeview coffee shop, he wanted to try and recreate that experience. And when he saw the space on Wilson Avenue, his instincts and the proximity to Truman College told him that this was it. Since then, Emerald City Uptown has quickly been embraced by the community, aided by the street’s high pedestrian traffic and the shop’s strong brews, house-baked treats, and friendly vibes.

What makes Emerald City Uptown different? Brian’s mantra is to “do things the right way and you’ll be glad you did.” So he and his staff avoid shortcuts, least of all with their baked goods. He used to order pastries from elsewhere but decided to make his own to ensure quality, which also necessitated their move to have more production space. Today, pastries are made in-house, made using simple recipes with no more than six or seven ingredients. And, even though he doesn’t like bananas, the banana bread is a favorite.

Brian also emphasizes that there’s no attitude at Emerald City – the goal is to be an inviting space for all of Uptown’s residents and visitors. For Brian, coupons and marketing can’t beat word of mouth and he’s a firm believer that with fair prices and good attitude people are sure to come. He must be onto something, because business is bustling, surprising even for someone used to high traffic at the original location next to the Sheridan L. Brian says they’re well ahead of schedule and only getting busier.

There for the community. Brian wants Emerald City to be community-centric, to connect neighbors, and to support Uptown’s diversity. For him the coffee shop is a space to help facilitate connections and to bring people together, all of which is part of helping Uptown be more welcoming.
Part of that is the Red Room, an event and community space in Emerald City’s back room that would function as a blank canvas for local musician, poets, and artists. The space has already held several small events, but Brian is working to expand its reputation and events calendar.

What’s next for Emerald City? Brian doesn’t like to get ahead of himself, but there are plans for a larger menu, with grab-and-go lunch options for Truman faculty and students. Plus pies and maybe even house-made ice cream in the summer. The eventual goal is to run a 24-hour coffee shop just like Mojo’s.

So stop by, grab a cup o’ joe and a pastry and linger to play a board game, hear music, and chat to a neighbor. Emerald City Uptown is open daily till 7pm, with extended hours for special events.