Across the country, people gather for coffee, creativity, and community, three missions fulfilled at Great Stone Coffee on KK in Osage Beach.
The scent of coffee wafting through a home pulls sleepy-heads from their beds. On the job, a pot of hot coffee has replaced the water-cooler drawing colleagues together for shop talk. Across the country, people gather for coffee, creativity, and community, three missions fulfilled at Great Stone Coffee on KK in Osage Beach.
In high school, Great Stone’s owner, Will Runyon, Jr. imagined a business that would welcome local talent in all its stages of development. Study at the Kansas City Art Institute gave more life to Runyon’s dreams. There, surrounded by creative, artistic people, Runyon realized how art begets art — how creativity thrives and grows in such places. He wanted that for the Lake.
Runyon’s first venture into collaboration and creativity was through the seasonal Osage Beach Farmer’s Market where people who work with soil, cattle, flour, and fabric could show their wares. In 2018, Runyon left that partnership to launch Great Stone Coffee with beans from a Missouri roasterie, water tailored for good flavors, food made without preservatives, and performances of all kinds.
In the first months, Runyon and General Manager Kris Oliver focused on delivering good coffee. For that, they selected Kaldi’s Coffee from St. Louis. They also installed a GC (Global Customized) Water system to insure the full flavors of the bean at pour. Based in Camdenton, GC analyzed and selected filters and mineral additives essential for best coffee flavors.
In addition, Runyon and staff learned to make the perfect heart or floral designs on the surface of a cup of latte. These designs please customers before the very first taste.
For later in the day, Great Stone also serves beer, including Boulevard of Kansas City and Paul’s Pale Ale from Springfield. Wine bottled by Seven Springs of Linn Creek can be ordered for the table, or if a glass is all that’s required, Barefoot wines are available. Great Stone’s future may have cocktails on the menu, too.
For breakfast pastries and anytime sweets, Runyon partnered with Marlena Hatmaker, owner of A Girl and Her Truck boutique bakery. Her wares, including a pasta sauce, can be found at Great Stone.
In addition, they serve sandwiches such as a classic ham and swiss piled high with meat and cheese or red pepper hummus with pita, a plate that can be shared by all at the table. In fact, shareables or plates designed to be enjoyed by everyone gathered around a table are a new focus — just one more initiative to make it a place for groups to gather and linger.
Performance Art Venue
With coffee and good food established in the community, Runyon has turned his attention to the other side of Great Stone Coffee’s business: a hub for the performing arts. Believing that people should have a place for talent to bud, blossom, and bloom, Runyon is cultivating Great Stone as a place for music, theater, poetry, comedy, painting, sculpting, and drawing. In fact, monthly Open Mic Nights might feature all of them with art by a local artist exhibited on the walls while art that lives only in the moment is performed on a stage set up for that purpose.
Improv Jam with Mary DeMichele is one regularly scheduled performance event. In fact, in November 2019, she celebrated her one-year anniversary with Great Stone. She brings 25 years of experience in education, clinical, and professional settings. She knows how to encourage participants of every age to think on their feet, listen, and speak during G-rated, family-friendly activities. The results are applause, smiles, and laughter.
A Columbia business, Paint the Town, is another regular event. Would-be and practiced painters can follow instructions to complete a painting with Paint the Town providing all necessary supplies. On Friday nights, customers can sit back and do nothing but watch a family-friendly movie (admission is free). On other nights, customers can play games, including Scentsy Bingo or Scentsy Bunco.
The goal, says Runyon, is to bring back the vibrancy of the area’s storied past when performance art was one of the many magnets drawing people to Lake of the Ozarks. Runyon is also eager to share his love for performance. He’s starred as the terrible misogynist in a Jefferson City production of “9 to 5” and as the convicted, moral Mr. Roberts in a play by that name.
Old-Time Radio Theater is another regular event. Matt Clemmons prepares the scripts while local talent delivers them. These have become so popular that other venues such as Sunrise Beach Little Theater have hosted them.
Most important to Runyon is making a space for people to belong and be creative. He appears to be accomplishing that and more. There, a good, strong cup and a bite from a shareable could very well lead to a song and a future in the spotlight.
Great Stone Coffee
1375 State Highway KK, Osage Beach
Open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With evening hours for special events listed at