Coffee Buddha closes its temple

Savannah MacAllister, North Campus Staff

Coffee Buddha, located at 964 Perry Highway, has officially closed its doors on Feb. 29, 2020. “I was 26 years old when I opened Coffee Buddha on Jul. 6, 2011. In that time, I have watched your children grow up and have watched friends take the leap and open up their own business ventures,” says owner, Mike Witherel.

Coffee Buddha was both a coffee house and neighborhood hangout, used to discover art, events, and everything coffee. It included a living room, study and meeting rooms, zen garden, and a dog-friendly porch and patio. “I think it was a really cute coffee shop with homey decor. I used to frequently visit for the bottled soda,” says CCAC student and Perrysville native, Megan Wells.

The meaning behind Coffee Buddha is memorable among the community. “The name ‘Coffee Buddha’ popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. I looked up the dictionary definition, and it said: Awakened one,” says Witherel. “It really worked on all levels. Also, it was a philosophy that I truly respected as being open and welcoming to all. It gave me a theme to run with.”

“I had aspirations of opening my own business, but wasn’t sure what. The location kind of fell in my lap, I actually had the property before I had the idea” says Witherel. “Growing up in the North Hills area, I thought about what I would have liked to have had around growing up; and also what I might be capable of. A community spot/cafe/venue fits that mold.” The shop had a variety of international coffee, tea, and pastries. Pictures, paintings, prints and artifacts from around the world enhance the walls. It also had changing seasonal specials and food truck roundups on weekends.

Jenna L. Korth

“I love supporting independent coffee shops, the quirkier the better, and no one out-quirks Coffee Buddha,” says CCAC professor Ashleigh Fox. The dog-friendly porch and patio included a leash hook-up, water dishes, and milk bone treats. Inside, there was a big flat top where movies and sports are shown. Lots of books, periodicals, and games were available as well. With the food truck roundups, game nights, live music, and many other social events occur. Each coffee and brewing method has its own requirements, such as temperature of water and how the coffee beans are ground. Most everything is made from scratch, including the flavored syrups.

“As for someone who really took Coffee Buddha for granted as a fixture of the northern part of the city, I’m definitely sad it’s closed. I am glad, though, to have had so much time there,” says Fox.
“I was able to make one last visit with my English department colleague Luke Niebler the other week, and we are hopeful someone from the community will purchase the space and keep it open.” “There are too many memories to list. We literally had the first food truck round up in Pittsburgh, meditation with Buddhist monk events, countless concerts, etc.,” says Witherel.  “It was an honor to serve our community. Thank you for having me.”