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Roxane McCoskey


Roxane McCoskey has worn a lot of hats in her life. She’s been a stay at home mom, a work-from homer, an athletic director’s assistant, a farmers market vendor and now she’s a coffee shop owner.

Did we mention that Roxane didn’t even like coffee when she opened her coffee shop?

But Roxane didn’t get into the coffee business for the coffee, for her it was all about loveknots.

Loveknots are sweet knots of dough with a thick swipe of frosting on top. Every Christmas, Roxane’s mother-in-law made loveknots using a secret family recipe and the entire family devoured every last one. They often talked about how they should start a business selling them, because who could not love a loveknot?!

As years passed, Roxane tried her hand at making loveknots, but it wasn’t so easy. She had lots of failed attempts – years of failed attempts – until she finally got the recipe down and she became the official holiday loveknot maker.

But the question still remained, could they sell loveknots? Roxane and her family decided to test out their theory at the farmers market. They set up a table, laid out the loveknots and waited. Nothing happened.

“We didn’t realize that people didn’t know what loveknots were,” Roxane said. “But once we started putting out samples people would try it and immediately buy one.”

They sold 700-800 loveknots every weekend, oftentimes selling out an hour before the market ended. Then came the questions from their eager customers, ‘Where’s your shop?’ and ‘How can I buy more of these?’

So, Roxane and her husband started looking for retail space. However, they quickly realized that opening a shop that only sold loveknots might be difficult, so they decided to look for a coffee shop.

After scoping out their options around town they settled on a shop in the Piedmont Shopping Center and quickly went to work to make it their own. She and her husband originally named it Loveknot Coffee Shop as a way to stay connected with their farmers market customers, but they recently renamed it The Harbor.

Opening a coffee shop was a whole new kind of adventure for Roxane. Sure, she had mastered the loveknots, but running a business with employees and customers was an entirely new endeavor. Plus, she didn’t just want to be the owner of yet another coffee shop in town, she said, Lincoln has plenty of coffee shops but she wanted hers to be different.

And it was. After a few months of being in business, Roxane noticed their her clientele was different than most shops around town. She had regulars, lots of regulars who came with a few friends to drink coffee and chat for a few hours. And Roxane noticed that the majority of her customers were older.

At first, she wasn’t so sure about this. Was this the kind of vibe she wanted for her shop? But now, she said she wouldn’t change it.

Having a large population of older people who frequent her shop has made it a place where people talk with each other instead of avoid eye contact. It’s become a place that’s an extension of people’s homes and a part of their routine.

Her staff is the other thing that’s really shaped the culture at The Harbor. Roxane is very intentional when she hires employees, she looks for dedicated workers with strong people skills.

“I tell them, ‘I don’t want you just to work, I want you to like what you’re doing and build relationships,’ ” she said.

Roxane said it’s been fun to watch her employees build relationships with customers in their own ways. Some of them sit down and do a crossword puzzle with patrons, others offer a kind smile and friendly service, but they all have their own way of making people feel at home.

Walking into The Harbor feels like stopping by a small town coffee shop. There are old guys cracking jokes about birdwatching, the sweet smell of loveknots and coffee and families with their kids. It’s the kind of place that isn’t too concerned about having trendy drinks and decor, but is more focused on the quality and care they pour into each day they’re open.

A lot of the culture at The Harbor has developed on its own, but it’s also been heavily influenced by Roxane, and rightly so.

She’s the owner who started out not liking coffee, but now drinks a few cups a day. The baker who comes in late at night to make loveknots. And the boss who runs the show, but leaves the credit to her staff.

It’s Roxane’s small town upbringing and deep devotion to people that make The Harbor feel as safe and comfortable as the name suggests. Without her, The Harbor wouldn’t be the same.

That’s the thing, Roxane has poured a lot of her life into owning and running a coffee shop. But it seems like that’s what she does with just about anything she’s a part of – her faith, family, friendships, work, marriage. Her life has been about digging in and digging deep.

She’s been asked a few times recently about whether she’ll open another coffee shop and right now the answer is ‘No.’ It’s a nice idea, she said, and maybe even a good business move, but she wonders if it would dilute her passion for the work she does now.

Running a business is a lot of work, and she loves it, but it’s not her entire life and she doesn’t want it to be. She wants to invest well in her staff and customers, prioritize her faith and her marriage and enjoy being a grandmother. These are the things she wants her story to be about, these things, and loveknots.

Dan Sloan


Dan Sloan’s world revolves around coffee, but he’s not an addict or snob.

He has a Milano in the morning and maybe another in the afternoon, but that’s about it. If he happens to have a cup of coffee that’s not great when he is traveling, it’s no big deal. Actually, it’s kind of a good thing, he said, it just reaffirms that what his team is doing at The Mill is as good as he thinks.

Dan has been part of The Mill since his early 20s. He’s gone from doing the books, to roasting the coffee and managing the staff to being an owner. He’s seen the coffee shop expand from a coffee corner to two full-scale shops.

A lot of his story has been shaped by the growth and expansion of The Mill, but Dan’s story has also shaped the organic and eclectic feel that’s present at The Mill today.

Let’s start at the beginning.

It was the late ‘70s and Dan was finishing his accounting degree at Union College. He was a numbers guy looking for his first job and a professor told him that the bike shop down the street needed someone to help with their books, so Dan applied and got the job.

At the time, the bike shop owner had a small coffee area in a corner of the shop. Nothing fancy, just basic coffee for the people who shopped. Over time, the shop owner fell in love with coffee and wanted to sell gourmet imported coffee to customers.

“That was the genesis of The Mill,” Dan said.

Now, The Mill has become a Lincoln staple. It’s a go-to spot for studying, newspaper reading or even a first date. Dan looked around The Haymarket Mill, scoping out his patrons for the day, as he described how he enjoys watching different crowds of people filter in and out of the coffee shop.

There’s a certain group that shows up at The Mill on Sunday mornings and another that occupies the late-night, weekday hours. So many people have integrated The Mill into their routine, and to Dan that’s special.

When it comes to running the shop, Dan described his approach as more evolutionary than revolutionary, meaning he didn’t necessarily set out to do anything other than roast and sell great coffee, but they’ve catered their services and aesthetic to what customers have wanted.

“We’re about community as much as coffee … we’re a melting pot, a meeting place, a safe haven … and we hear people’s stories,” he said as he waved to someone across the shop.

The Mill has done well, Dan said. Are there ways they could be more profitable? Sure, but he’s not willing to compromise his community-focused shop just to be slightly more profitable, that’s not Dan.

And while running a local coffee shop might seem like a simple task, it’s not. Dan takes it personally. His employees are like his kids, his two locations are an extension of his home and every paycheck he writes is going toward important things like college tuition, gas, groceries, student debt or rent.

It’s heavy and even lonely at times, because running a popular coffee shop is a 24/7 job. But it’s a load he shares with his wife, and it’s also one Dan takes pride in. It’s a pride and work ethic that he connects to his dad who owned a bakery in a small Michigan town.

Dan can remember washing dishes in the bakery and pulling all-nighters with his dad to make sure the shop was stocked for the next day. He knows it wasn’t easy to raise four boys on a bakery, but it was what his dad loved and passionately pursued until he retired.

He’d often say to Dan, ‘If you don’t have pride in what you do, you have no business doing it.’ That’s why Dan has stayed tethered to The Mill after all this time, it’s the combination of his passion, the people, the ownership and the community – it’s satisfying work.

And while his accountant-turned-coffee-shop-owner title cues looks of confusion, Dan likes that his work is a nerdy-hippie hybrid.  He knows his experience in the corporate accounting world has shaped him as an employer and given him the tools to properly build and expand The Mill. In the same way, his people-driven coffee shop has brought out his extroverted side.

When Dan takes time to zoom out and look at the broader picture of his life, he’s not shocked that The Mill has been a consistent theme. He said he always hoped he’d be his own boss. He was never a traditionalist who played it safe. Dan likes risks and he values making his own mistakes.

His story is about building community, watching community grow and staying true to his values. He’s thankful for the stress, chaos and culture that a coffee shop has brought into his life and his story.

He’s Dan Sloan largely because of The Mill, so if you want to know Dan, just stop by The Mill.

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