Iowa City is a college town filled to the brim with coffee shops. They appear around every corner. Despite this apparent market saturation, Uptown Bill’s Coffee Shop has thrived and continued to provide a unique atmosphere to patrons for the last 15 years.
The business opened in 2001 in an effort to recreate the success of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop in North Hall at the University of Iowa. Tom Waltz, a UI professor of social work, received a grant to open the business. His goal was simple: create an oasis for the disadvantaged.
The name “Bill” is in memoriam of Bill Sackter, a handicapped man who quickly became well-known as an employee at the original coffeehouse. Wild Bill’s was his oasis.
Waltz transferred this relaxing, safe atmosphere to the uptown location with great success. Customers can come in and enjoy a cup of joe, read and buy books, or enjoy one of the many performances or events at the location.
The building is also home to the Uptown Bill’s Media Project. The project selects works created by and for individuals with disabilities with the goal of sharing life challenges and perspectives. A radio project is also being developed.
Uptown Bill’s is always accepting volunteers and donations to help support their various projects and services. Donations of coffee cups and books are needed according to a listing on their website.
Whether you decide to go for a cup of Joe or a poetry reading, Uptown Bill’s always has something new to offer.
Photo courtesy of Little Village Magazine