Family Tree Nursery, Thou Mayest create botanically-inspired coffee shop in Shawnee

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Cafe Equinox
From left, brothers Bo Nelson and Jesse Nelson holding Cafe Equinox mugs in Family Tree Nursery, 7036 Nieman Road.

Family Tree Nursery in Shawnee and Thou Mayest, a well-known Kansas City coffee brand, have come together to create Cafe Equinox, a new, botanically inspired coffee shop.

Bo Nelson, owner of the Thou Mayest brand, opened Cafe Equinox in Family Tree Nursery, a business owned and operated by Nelson’s family, at 7036 Nieman Road. The cafe first opened in mid-February.

Nelson closed his Thou Mayest coffee shop in the Crossroads District in Kansas City, Missouri, at the end of December 2018. That makes Cafe Equinox Nelson’s only retail coffee shop serving Thou Mayest coffee.

For Nelson, nothing beats an early-morning stroll through the family greenhouses, sipping a fresh cup of coffee and breathing in the rich fumes of the plants. That’s why they built Cafe Equinox right inside the nursery.

“There’s something that plants do to people; you walk out into that greenhouse and you feel lighter, you feel different,” Nelson said, adding that he wants customers to capitalize on that experience while exploring the greenhouses and enjoying coffee. “As you come in the greenhouse at 7 a.m., when we open, grab a coffee and go out there: journal, write, do emails, everything is just humming, it’s just vibrating.”

‘Plants rule the world’

Cafe Equinox
Photo courtesy of Dustin Duewel, Merit Photo Co.

Bo’s brother Jesse Nelson echoed his sentiments, adding that the greenhouses are the ultimate inspiration for the coffee shop.

“We want to share that with people; I get paid to work in that environment, but I want people to enjoy a cup of coffee and be able to soak that up,” Jesse Nelson said. “It’s just so reviving. They feel alive by the space. Plants rule the world.

“A big part of that is trying to create that experience for people to come in, relax, enjoy the beauty and share in moments and relationships with other people. That’s what most people go to a coffee shop for; what a space to do that in.”

Photo courtesy of Dustin Duewel, Merit Photo Co.

Cafe Equinox also offers products from local vendors, including baked goods from Heirloom Bakery and Hearth and Mud Pie Bakery as well as teas from ChaiPod, and Chicago-based Spirit Tea. Hours of operation are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Thou Mayest remains a wholesale distributor of coffee, as many local coffee shops and organizations continue serving the local brand.

Family Tree Nursery was established in 1965 by Bo’s grandfather, Ron Nelson, and has three retail locations in the Kansas City metro area. Building a cafe inside the nursery, a concept seven years in the making, is just one part of that legacy as the Nelsons continue to grow the family business.

“We want to carry on the legacy; our family, they’ve built something that is a staple in Kansas City,” Jesse Nelson said. “And we want to continue to provide that experience.”

About the author

Leah Wankum
Leah Wankum

Hi there! I’m Leah Wankum, and I’m the Post’s Deputy Editor. I’m thrilled to call Johnson County home, and I’m deeply committed to the Post’s philosophy that an informed community is a strong community.

I’m a native of mid-Missouri, and attended high school in Jefferson City before going on to the University of Central Missouri, where I earned a master’s degree in mass communication.

Prior to joining the Post as a reporter in 2018, I was the editor of the Richmond News in Ray County, Missouri. I’ve also written for several publications, including the Sedalia Democrat and KC Magazine.