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Slingshot opens a morning hangout 

Jenny Bonchak, the founder and CEO of Slingshot, makes a pour over.

Photo by Jeremy M. Lange

Jenny Bonchak, the founder and CEO of Slingshot, makes a pour over.

Rain fell steadily the Friday night that Slingshot Coffee owner Jenny Bonchak welcomed fans and friends to her new Raleigh headquarters at 1420 N. Brookside Drive. She and husband Jonathan Bonchak couldn't show off the comfy sofa and chairs purchased for its new outdoor coffee shop, Weekend, but no one seemed to care.

Supporters gladly crowded into the 1,000-square foot production room and gamely stood under a canopy of trees on the new patio to admire the sylvan view of a stretch of Crabtree Creek. They simply were too busy enjoying themselves, drinking coffee and beer, nibbling pork or vegan barbecue sandwiches, and listening to Stu McLamb of The Love Language perform a solo set.

The party is over, but the coffee continues to flow. The aptly named Weekend is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Patrons appreciate the opportunity to have bean options and hot pour-over coffee made by Jonathan, who works for Counter Culture Coffee in Durham. Jenny pours cold Slinghot from a series of taps topped with actual slingshots.

"This is a chance for Jonathan and I to do something we've dreamed about for years—standing beside each other, making coffee in a coffee bar. Our coffee bar," she says.

In the coming weeks, Weekend will feature new menu items, such as herbal infusions and granita-like coffee slushies. They also serve baked goods from Yellow Dog Bakery, their North Person neighbor, including scones and Pop-Tart-inspired pastries.

Bonchak started brewing Slingshot two years ago in a now-closed restaurant during its off hours. A few months later, she moved to a 150-square-foot production room inside Oak City Cycling. The new location, which she thinks will also allow for future growth, was made possible by the company's first significant investor: John Replogle, president and CEO of Seventh Generation, a maker of environmentally friendly household products.

"It's been amazing to have someone like that who not only is providing resources, but is providing a sounding board for me to talk through things," Bonchak says. "With his advice, I really feel like we're able to take a huge step forward."

When Bonchak launched Slingshot just two years ago, she would leave her day job and work through the night to bottle one batch and start brewing another. As a Valentine's Day gift to herself, she quit that job on Feb. 14. She now has three part-time employees, including one in Atlanta, and distributes Slingshot to retailers from Pennsylvania to Florida.

For this venture, Bonchak knows that her spouse is more than the average supportive husband. "You don't win the Brewer's Cup regionals twice in a row, and place at nationals, unless you really love making the very best coffee for people," she says with pride. "It's great to be able to do all this side by side."

The Bonchaks view Weekend's comfortable setting as an extension of their own nearby home. It's also pet friendly, with water bowls and a jar of dog biscuits next to the station with cream and simple syrup.

"Frank the beagle wouldn't have it any other way," Bonchak says of the couple's gregarious pup, who has his own Twitter account. "We love to be outside and entertain with friends, and we wanted the same feel for Weekend. We hope people will want to hang out here, enjoy some coffee, read the paper and just unwind."

Hannah Elmore stopped by with her husband, Jack, and their 2-month-old son, Roy, on their way to the State Farmer's Market. They got two coffees and a bottle of chilled Cascara Tea to go, along with a pair of Slingshot T-shirts. "We follow Slingshot on Instagram and were so excited when we heard Weekend was open," she says. "We love great coffee, so we'll definitely be back."

This article appeared in print with the headline "Weekend addition."

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