Elgin’s Main Street Board has nominated two downtown businesses for the annual Texas Downtown Association Presidents’ Awards: Chemn Cafe for Best Downtown Business and Elgin Wellness Shoppe’s building at 109 North Main Street for Best Renovation.
Chemn Cafe, opened in July 2019, is a coffee shop on Main Street with educational, chemistry-themed decor, offering coffee and cold beverages, event hosting and a place for people to work and gather. Chemn Cafe participates in downtown initiatives, such as Sip, Shop & Stroll and the Hot Chocolate Stroll, and owner Monica Barker helps her neighbors by cross-advertising with other downtown businesses and promoting active social media use.
When the pandemic hit, the cafe pivoted quickly by offering curbside pick-up, call-ahead orders and the sale of staples. Once businesses began reopening, half of the tables inside were removed to foster social distancing, and small groups could reserve the space inside.
The 2,500-square-foot building at 109 North Main Street, built in 1910 has served as many different businesses until 2010, when lack of maintenance left the property vacant. In October 2015, the Elgin City Council passed the Elgin Downtown Zoning Overlay, which made it possible for buildings to be divided into commercial and residential uses. Brenda and Kenny Chambers, the owners of Elgin Wellness Shoppe on Depot Street at the time, spent less than $250,000 to renovate the building, following the standards for historic restoration as established by the National Park Service. Many of the original features were preserved, and the original transom windows were removed and replaced with new window panes matching the size and shape of the originals.
The building would give Elgin Wellness Shoppe room to grow and allow for an apartment at the back of the store to help cover expenses. Now, it includes treatment rooms rented to local massage therapists and space for a nutritionist and Brenda Chambers’ wellness services.