Places to get coffee around Ames: Lockwood Cafe

Sharon and Austin Stewart opened Lockwood Cafe together in October 2019.

Nicole Mattson

Lockwood Cafe co-owner, Sharon Stewart, shares how their cafe fosters a sense of community and offers affordable meals for everyone.

Lockwood Cafe opened Oct. 1, 2019, with the goal of creating a safe space to foster a sense of community as well as make meals affordable to all. The cafe has a graffiti wall customers can add their own artwork to as well as a rope to climb. The unique space is located on Reliable Street in West Ames. The other owner is Stewart’s husband, Austin Stewart, who brings a lot of the creative ideas to the table. He is also an associate professor for the College of Design at Iowa State.

Lockwood has a diverse group of customers, from students to community members or just people who live in the neighborhood, since it is the only coffee shop in the area.

“Reliable Street is really looking to be a community engaged base that promotes equity and equality for everyone in the Ames community,” Sharon Stewart said. “With opening the cafe, we really wanted to provide a place to gather and to meet and for people to communicate in ways that maybe they don’t normally experience.”

Sharon Stewart and her husband both had experience working in the restaurant industry.

“We brought a lot of our past experiences and things that we liked and things that we didn’t like to kind of develop a space that we felt was kind of true to our mission and true to our moral code,” Sharon Stewart said.

“We have a very simple menu, it’s primarily crepes right now. We believe very strongly that limitation breeds creativity and we have a lot of limitations in the space. Our kitchen is really small, our food preparation is limited because of that, so we chose to do crepes because it’s a way to make food healthy, affordable and quick,” Sharon Stewart said. “Also our menu is vegetarian, and that is again so we can make it affordable.” 

Sharon Stewart went into greater depth about their competition and just how affordable their menu items are.

“We don’t consider ourselves to be competing with places like The Cafe, Provisions or some of these other restaurants that are somewhat close,” Sharon Stewart said. “Instead, we see our competition as McDonald’s, so we’ve made our price points to being comparable to McDonald’s. You can get a breakfast special for the same price that you can get a breakfast combo at McDonald’s and the most expensive crepe is still less than the most expensive McDonald’s combo.”

Lockwood strives on the Stewarts’ goals of community and equality.

“The idea is that we want this place to be accessible for everybody, so it really can create community and common ground,” Sharon Stewart said.

Lockwood gets their groceries from locally owned grocery stores to continue to support the community they created this cafe for. They also work with people in the community to improve where they can and to give the people what they want and need. Sharon Stewart said they are very community driven.

Sharon Stewart said she loves seeing people connect and serving food. She describes them as her favorite parts of her job. She enjoys seeing customers connect, whether it’s over a meal, artwork they created in the back or a cup of coffee, this is part of the passion she has for her job.

“I love serving food. Serving food is a way that you show someone so much love and kindness, like the intention that you put into the food, where the food comes from. I just love serving food,” Sharon Stewart said.

Sharon Stewart said Lockwood Cafe is different from franchise cafes such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ because those are places of utility where you get the same thing every time and you may or may not get to know the person who is making your coffee.

“At Lockwood you’re going to come in and you’re going to be a part of a community, you’re going to be a part of a local economy and you’re going to have individual agency in the space,” Sharon Stewart said. “By coming into Lockwood, you’re coming into the family, you’re a part of the group. It’s really about how you are a part of something bigger than just you.”

Sharon Stewart defined Lockwood as a safe place physically, mentally and emotionally for everyone. They are currently only doing outdoor seating to remain a COVID-19 safe space. With the weather getting colder, she recommends people check out their Facebook or Instagram for updates on their partial indoor seating to come and other news.