This piece is part of a series of articles submitted to The Local Tourist through a cooperation with a 400-level travel writing class at Purdue University.
By Hannah Golichowski
I distinctly remember the first morning I visited The Eleventh House Coffee and Spot Tavern in downtown Lafayette. It was a chilly day, but I was looking forward to warming up inside this hole-in-the-wall on South Fourth Street.
I made my way through two doors that were engulfed in random bumper stickers and riddled with candid Sharpie-written advice — some new and some that seemed older than I was.
Inside, every square inch of the walls was decorated with abstract art, posters of performers, musical artists, and music events. However, I was a bit puzzled when I noticed the bar and a full stock of what seemed like every kind of liquor behind it.
Clearly, this wasn’t your ordinary coffee shop.
The Eleventh House Coffee Shop
While pouring multiple espressos, Eleventh House owner Gianna Hartman addressed the elephant in the room, or rather, the abundance of alcohol in the room.
I found out this building is the home of not just one, but two Lafayette businesses: The Eleventh House and The Spot Tavern, owned by Paul Baldwin.
Hartman said Baldwin approached her with this unique business opportunity when she used to work as a server at The Black Sparrow, which Baldwin also owns.
In November 2019, Hartman opened a cold brew pop-up shop where once a week, she and a few other baristas would set up outside on the back patio of The Spot to serve all who craved caffeine and a conversation.
Shortly after, Baldwin reached out to let Hartman know about The Spot’s vacancy during the day, and she just couldn’t say no.
The Spot officially welcomed Eleventh House inside its doors on August 23, 2020.
The name stems from Hartman’s fascination with astrology, its 12 houses, and how each one represents an area of life.
“So that’s how I settled on ‘Eleventh House’ because, in astrology, the literal eleventh house represents society and togetherness, which is how I’ve always viewed coffee, a way to bring people together. We’re all about inclusivity here,” said Hartman.
There was obvious passion behind Gianna’s voice when she talked about bringing bold flavors to the forefront of Lafayette’s coffee scene. Her coffee creations are as unique as the shop’s location, with beverage add-ons like rose or freshly picked lavender. She also serves the best and only sweet potato latte in town.
Their bold breakfast menu doesn’t stop at coffee. The bagel options—better yet, their nine different bagel schmear options—range from plain and Old Bay-seasoned, to peanut butter and even blueberry lavender flavored.
Since I became so fond of the sunny side of the business, I couldn’t resist taking a trip to the dark side.
The Spot Tavern
I was once again walking down Fourth Street, this time on a Saturday night. I was accompanied by more people and with a different destination ahead of us: The Spot Tavern; Open from 5 p.m. – 12 a.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays and 5 p.m. – 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
None of my friends had ever even heard of this place, so I was eager to witness how they’d react.
As soon as we stepped inside, karaoke music blared from the stage in the next room, along with handfuls of people singing with drinks in their hand. The air was reminiscent of ground coffee beans combined with newer, stronger scents of craft beer and hand-cut cocktail garnishes.
Our group made a beeline for the back of the building to meet up with more mutual friends, only to discover the beauty of the back patio at The Spot Tavern.
There were strings of lights at every corner that illuminated a scene filled with cocktails and conversations held at tables and firepits. It made me feel right at home.
At that moment, I became smitten by The Spot.
I found myself on the same barstool I had been in when I had coffee earlier with Gianna. It was probably the fourth or fifth visit when I got to chat with Scott “Scooter” Guinn, a Spot favorite bartender, about the history behind the place.
Scooter said that Baldwin bought the building from a “guy who looked like Freddie Mercury,” but emphasized that it was just that – a building.
“It’s crazy how different this whole place used to be and what it’s evolved to now,” he said.
He described how Baldwin “funked up” what used to be a super old school spot and added the back patio and karaoke stage.
Speaking of the karaoke stage, Scooter also mentioned how The Spot is proud of its music scene. He said artists from every genre of music come into The Spot to perform. A lot of free jazz, touring bands —some local and some international (mostly from Australia) — have taken the stage here.
However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he said that it’s become a limited selection based upon artists who will perform.
After talking with Scooter, I figured it was high time I ordered something to drink. Did I want to play it safe, or should I test the waters with something new? The possibilities are endless, whether you want to stick with what you know or broaden your horizons.
The staff at The Spot Tavern is more than willing to create what you are craving, hence the fully loaded bar.
Their “Spottail” menu offers a slew of flavor combinations, such as their 3 Fire Daiquirí made with rum fire, Plantation 3 Stars white rum, lime and simple syrup; as well as their Brazilian Buck beverage, made with Novo Fogo Chameleon Cachaça, ginger beer, bitters and lime – my favorite.
If you aren’t much of a cocktail person, The Spot Tavern also provides an array of domestic and local craft beer.
Whether you’re looking to get a good kick-start to your morning or nightcap for your evening, take a trip down South Fourth Street in downtown Lafayette to The Eleventh House or Spot Tavern – you won’t be disappointed.
For more information about The Spot Tavern, visit their Facebook page, spotspotspot.com, or during business hours from 5 p.m.–12 a.m. on Tuesdays through Thursdays, and 5 p.m.–2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.