The funny thing is, Luana’s Coffee Yard owner Aaron Schofield got all his coffee knowledge and skills from working at HobNob's Food and Spirits four years ago. Bob and Cherylin Hodge, owners of the former downtown Phoenix cafe, along with their son Kyle, took Schofield in and taught him how to brew coffee and manage a shop.
“Bob and Cherylin were like my second parents,” Schofield says. “I ended up working [at HobNob’s] for about a year.”
After leaving HobNob’s in March 2017, Schofield opened his mobile coffee cart and brewed coffee for catered events and at random locations around the Valley. He was known for making crazy coffee concoctions like The Voldemort, a drink that mimicked the Starbucks Unicorn Frappuccino, and The Rocket Pop, modeled after a classic Rocket ice pop.
Then, the Hodges decided to close HobNob’s after 11 years of business in December 2019. So Schofield decided to buy the 1903-built home — formerly the popular Willow House — on the corner of Third Avenue and McDowell Road and turn it into a brick-and-mortar location for his coffee cart.
He opened the first Luana’s Coffee and Beer with his girlfriend, Kylee Roberts, in early January 2020, expanding the menu to serve breakfast, lunch, and alcohol along with coffee.
“I wouldn’t be here without HobNob’s,” Schofield says. “Kyle taught me how to make coffee and when I started my mobile coffee cart, Luana’s Coffee Yard, I bought my coffee cart from them. So much of my life was connected to that place, which is why it’s so surreal to be back here.”
Everything in Luana’s, from the detailed menu to the colors of furniture, was a careful decision made by Schofield and Roberts. Each piece of furniture is a reminder of a member of Schofield’s family, like the orange chair his grandfather used to always sit in, or a glass lamp that was always on a coffee table in his home.
Even the shop’s logo is a careful design symbolizing Schofield’s journey of learning to run a coffee shop.
“Luana was my grandmother’s name,” Schofield says. “[The logo] is a metaphor for my friend teaching me how to make coffee. Kyle is represented in the rose, he taught me my coffee knowledge and brought me back to life.”
Along with the coffee cart’s special drinks and the new expanded menu, Schofield purchased some of the sandwiches and recipes that were formerly served at HobNob’s in addition to his own food creations.
Schofield says all of the ingredients are sourced from local businesses, such as Arizona Bread Company bread for the sandwiches and a local baker’s dough for the pizzas.
Each sandwich is stuffed with meat and toppings on thick sourdough bread or pretzel loaves and is served on a black stone plate with a side of Hawaiian macaroni salad and salted, ruffled potato chips. The thin-crust pizza is thick with mozzarella cheese and drizzled in either barbecue sauce or, to make it a breakfast pizza, crumbled scrambled eggs.
“We negotiated with [HobNob’s] cook Stephanie Duffrin, who’s been making food here for 11 years,” Schofield says.
“She does all of our pastries in our back-house every morning. Every single thing is pretty much made here. If it isn’t, like our bread and our dough, it’s made within three miles of here.”
Schofield said he always admired how much HobNob’s was part of the neighborhood and wanted Luana’s to reflect the artsy, creative community it serves.
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Currently, Schofield says they’re working on creating special dishes; a portion of the proceed will go toward charity. At the moment, they're still seeking an organization that keeps the money in Phoenix.
“I just think it’s really important that we love that part of our community,” Schofield says. “We try really hard to connect to the art or the people in the community.”
Despite the new digs, Luana’s Coffee Yard can still be spotted around town, either at Sunrise High School on Thursdays or at other organized events. But Schofield said he’ll primarily be at his new restaurant, coming up with kooky coffee drinks while honoring the memory of his HobNob’s family.
Luana’s Coffee and Beer
149 West McDowell Road
Hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday