Since a second location of Skipper’s Brew Coffee House first opened downtown in February, co-owners and married couple Shari Rubino and Karen Pike say everything has gone better than expected.
Now, Skipper’s Brew is hosting a “Big Gay Grand Opening” today, June 15, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The event will include a DJ, a drag show, an Australian sausage sizzle and tacos from Hoagies Sandwiches & Grill.
The grand opening is just one way Rubino and Pike are raising awareness that Skipper’s Brew is a female and LGBTQ+ owned safe space.
“We just wanted to make sure that everyone knew that everyone is welcome,” Rubino said.
Recently, Skipper’s Brew partnered with the Gala Pride and Diversity Center to support the LGBTQ+ community — taking part in events such as a pride caravan that took place through downtown and ended at Skipper’s Brew with about 300 people.
“It was amazing; it was a night that everyone needed,” Rubino said.
Skipper’s Brew barista and Cuesta College student Eleanor Hudson said that she appreciates that Pike and Rubino use the ownership of their business to promote social change.
“It’s a risk, because you are making a political statement by doing it,” Hudson said. “But I’m really proud to be able to come into a job and be able to say…everyone’s equal and you can come here to a safe space.”
Compared to other coffee shops she has worked at, Hudson said the owners at Skipper’s Brew try to make it feel like a family.
“Parents have [their] queer children come in…because this is like a safe space for them,” Hudson said. “Here, I feel like it’s very much like a passion project and everyone is in on it.”
Pike and Rubino originally bought out an existing coffee shop in Morro Bay and reinvented the menu and interior. When they noticed many Cal Poly students drove to Morro Bay to drink their coffee, they felt a location in Downtown San Luis Obispo was necessary.
“Probably from the first weekend we opened the doors, it just hit the ground running,” Rubino said. “It’s been amazing.”
While not receiving federal assistance after the pandemic hit, Rubino and Pike took second jobs to help stay afloat.
“The decision to open a second location wasn’t one we took lightly as we knew we were in the middle of a pandemic,” Rubino said. “We had such positive momentum with our Morro Bay location, we felt we would be successful in a second location.”
Although their San Luis Obispo location is smaller than their Morro Bay property, Rubino said that the foot traffic is the same.
During the week, Pike said the shop is full of business people, but they get a lot of students studying on the weekends.
“I honestly think it’s been a good mix of both — it’s almost split,” Pike said.
Skipper’s Brew is located at 1242 Monterey St. and is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.