Downtown Coffee Shop puts Pep in your Step

. August 24, 2016.

Bleak House Coffee

612 Adams St. Toledo 43604
Mon-Fri: 7:30am-4pm
Sat: 9am-2pm | Sun: Closed

As summer comes to a close, my kids and I hold wonderful memories of another summer in the city and the new places we were able to experience. One of our recent adventures in the city was a trip downtown with friends to check out Bleak House Coffee on Adams Street. I assure you the customers, employees, and atmosphere were anything BUT bleak!

Coffee with pizazz

Walking into a small, locally owned business, you can’t help but immediately love the character that it exudes. And in the case of Bleak House, the wonderful aromas that greeted us when we opened the door were more than inviting. GOOD MORNING!

According to manager Eileen Iannone, Bleak House is owned by local attorney Scott Ciolek. The original location was in the historic Spitzer Building until the building was closed in 2012. Now, Bleak House calls a storefront on Adams Street home, an ideal location in the middle of the downtown hustle and bustle.

Admittedly, I still don’t venture downtown as often as I would like but apparently many other people do because for a Saturday morning, the streets were hopping and so was Bleak House. The atmosphere is quite eclectic and though the space at first seemed rather small, there was more seating available than I first realized; including a cozy corner that included plush chairs where a couple people enjoyed their coffee with a book or the morning paper.

I am more of a “foo foo” coffee drinker, but my friend whom I consider a coffee connoisseur loved her simple Cup of Joe. Bleak House uses coffee from Wood Burl in Dayton and Intelligentsia Coffee in Chicago. My daughter and I each enjoyed a latte and wow, they were served with an artful design on top. How’d they do that? They had special training in Chicago; that’s how. I almost didn’t want to take a sip, but the smell of the caramel, cinnamon, and vanilla was too much to resist.

An array of local food offerings

We were initially drawn in on a Saturday after hearing that that was the only day they made specialty waffles. Waffles? You need not tell this crew twice. They prepare artisan waffles that you can’t find just anywhere and their ingredients are not run of the mill. That being said, they don’t come cheap. The waffle of the day will set you back $10. I’m a mom on a budget so I did cringe a bit, but the delicious ham and cheese waffle WAS most enjoyable. According to Ms. Iannone, customers can find the Saturday waffle of the day posted in advance on Facebook. Past favorites have been banana nut bread and the layered tiramisu. YUM.

Since the waffles are a special Saturday treat they are only available until they run out of batter. On that busy Saturday, that was about 10:30a.m. Not everyone at our table was able to enjoy the waffle of the day. They did, however, order a simple waffle with tasty handmade syrup on the side.

Bleak House carries countless products from local merchants. Their full lunch menu, as well as other breakfast items, is served with bread from All Crumbs Artisan Bakery in downtown Toledo. You and your little ones won’t be able to resist the tasty treats from Holey Toledough Doughnuts. What a terrific name! Rachel’s Handmade Ice Cream is sold almost exclusively at Bleak House. Aside from making great sandwiches and salads, Ms. Iannone said they also offer soups in the winter.

Our group kept it simple with just waffles that morning, and fresh juice was an option for my boys while the rest of us savored some fine coffee. However, after perusing their lunchtime offerings, I will need to stop back for lunch and another finely decorated latte that reminds you, “Relax. You’re here.” 

Karen Zickes is a mom of three active children
and freelance writer who resides in Holland, OH.
She can be reached in c/o

The Short Course

Kid-friendly: Better suited for older children
To avoid wait: Anytime
Noise level: Moderate to loud depending on how busy they are
Bathroom amenities: No changing station
High chairs? No
Got milk? Yes, from Hartzler’s Milk in Wooster, Ohio
Kids’ menu? No, but a selection of baked good would please the little ones for a snack
Food allergy concerns? Always be sure to notify them prior to ordering so food can be prepared safely without cross contamination.

Bottom Line: Bleak House Coffee offers that “home grown” character that can sometimes be hard to find in today’s day and age. They use as many local ingredients as possible and carry many fine items from other local businesses. Though they do not have a changing station or high chairs for the little ones, your older children would certainly enjoy stopping by for a meal or a snack. If the lunch offerings don’t suit their fancy they will, at the very least, enjoy one of the many sweet treats.