Stacey Sonnelitter was surprised to find her dream of opening a coffee house in Lockport was the perfect evolution of her healing work as a physician’s assistant.

Sonnelitter, a mom of four who will soon be opening a multi-room coffee house on East Avenue, said that it came to her one day that her occupation in health care and her new coffee house can both make people’s lives healthier. 

“One day it struck me,” she said, “This is what I tell my patients almost every day. I try to restore to them the power that they are the ones in control of their well-being and that it’s what patients do in their own time that enhances their health and wellness.”

That’s why her new coffee house, Lock Keeper Coffee House at 272 East Ave., will give people opportunities to find or fortify hobbies and passions. 

Among the many settings throughout her business, located in a former office space of a two-story residence, is a colorful crafts and meeting room where groups can gather free and where instructors will be welcome to teach classes. There will also, of course, be coffees, teas and a casual menu of sandwiches and desserts. 

This week, she took a few minutes away from last minute preparations for the opening, which she hopes to be within the month, to show a visitor around and answer some questions about her dream for the cozy coffee house. 

 QUESTION: Why a coffee house?

ANSWER: If you asked me when I started as a physician’s assistant 20 years ago what the secrets are to longevity, I would have said something like, ‘take an aspirin a day and follow your doctor’s instructions.’ Now, I’d say ‘It’s living well, staying in your home, having a good social network of friends and having a hobby or a passion or interest.’ And that’s what this coffee house embodies. It’s a place where I hope to promote healthy relationships and friendships and where I want to foster people’s hobbies and interests.

Q: So you hope to enhance wellness in your coffee house, much like you do as a PA?

A: When you first go into medicine you feel like, ‘oh, this pill fixes this and this pill fixes that,’ but that takes away from the patient’s sense of control in their lives. The reality is patients are in full control of their well being, because it’s what they’re doing on their own time that influences their outcome far more than anything else.

Q: You believe hobbies and passions create wellness? 

A: Right. If you would have asked me 20 years ago whether you should have a hobby, I would have said ‘It’s nice if you do but it doesn’t matter if you don’t.’ Now I realize that if you have a hobby or a passion, it enriches your life, gives you a purpose and it gives you a healthy outlet during difficult times. And when we are not using our minds and bodies they begin to decline.  

Q: Why a coffee house then, why not an art center?

A: Because I think if you open an art center, it’s going to be selective, whereas a coffee house welcomes everyone, including those who want to participate in a craft or read a book or simply decompress from their day and socialize. I didn’t want it to be exclusive, I want it to be like a home. 


To stay up to date on the opening of Lock Keepers Coffee House and events scheduled there, visit Lock Keepers Coffee House on Facebook.