Eli’s enters into co-ownership

Drew Veskauf TimesNewspapers
Eli’s Coffee Shop founding owner Katie VandenBerg, left, stands with new co-owner Rachel Berchtold.

The small coffee shop on Jefferson Street near downtown Morton has grown and established itself in the community in its past 10 years of operations.

Eli’s Coffee Shop grew, then grew some more and now has a second location in Tremont. It’s growth sparked an idea within owner Katie VandenBerg to bring on a co-owner.

Rachel Berchtold, who has been with Eli’s for about five years, will be taking on the day-to-day operations.

“It’s bigger than what I ever thought it would be,” VandenBerg said.

“I’ve been doing this for about 10 years now, and I think I was at the point that I had other ideas of what I wanted to do with my life.”

VandenBerg said Berchtold was instrumental in opening the Tremont location. With Berchtold being from Tremont, she knew the people within the community to help the business grow.

“That was kind of the only way I felt comfortable doing it, because I didn’t know anyone in (Tremont),” VandenBerg said.

The new co-ownership will keep a lot of things the same, but Berchtold said she and her husband Weston will be looking to add and improve on some areas within the company.

Weston Berchtold operates a startup business 

out of Normal and will help with logistics and the Morton and Tremont locations.

“It will be an interesting dynamic, but one that we’re both interested to take on,” Berchtold said.

“Plus the technology side of things are really great. A lot of our plans for the future have to do with that.”

Some changes the Berchtolds are hoping to manage are updating the website and streamlining communication between the two shops.

Another possible change to come to Eli’s catering service is to add a subscription service. Berchtold said they are working on plans to add this service which would allow weekly, bi-weekly or monthly catering services.

Growing Eli’s into other small communities in the area could be a possibility, Berchtold said.

“We want to get our brand and procedures streamlined here first before we tackle something like that,” Berchtold said. “I know something like this could do well out in other small communities, tight communities like this.” 

For VandenBerg, the co-ownership of Eli’s will give her more time to get back to doing what she loves to do.

“So much of it has just been me coming in, running up to my office, doing paper work and trying to get enough stuff done as I can,” VandenBerg said.

“Now, I will be able to talk to customers more. Maybe work behind the bar and make drinks again.”