Brainy Bean espresso bar opens in Carson City Courthouse

Workers and visitors at the Carson City Courthouse can now grab an espresso brewed to order or a fresh sandwich without having to leave the premises.

The Brainy Bean espresso and snack bar opened Thursday on the first floor of the 11-month-old courthouse at Roop and Musser Streets.

The tiny restaurant is owned by Susan and Ted Dollarhide and will be operated by Susan, who has worked as a director of operations for a software company and set up medical practices in California.

"This is perfect for someone like me who really doesn't want to work for someone else," Susan said of the Brainy Bean. "I've got a strong entrepreneurial spirit."

Besides a variety of espresso beverages, the Brainy Bean will offer salads, sandwiches and snacks, Ted said.

The Brainy Bean is at the south end of the courthouse entry hall, just past the door to the city treasurer, recorder and marriage bureau. Patrons do not have to go through the security scanners to reach the espresso bar.

When the city offices moved into the courthouse last April, they left downtown locations that were close to restaurants. The new courthouse is blocks from any restaurant and the only concessions had been snack and soda machines in a niche next to the Brainy Bean's new home.

Because the operation is a concession in a public building, 12 percent of the gross income will go to the Nevada Bureau of Services to the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Bureau chief Michael Becker said Wednesday that the opportunity at the courthouse was offered to the bureau's existing blind or visually impaired concessionaires but none wanted it. The site then was contracted to the Dollarhides.

"We do this all the time all over the state, including with vending machine operators," Becker said. "The money goes back into a fund to expand business opportunities for the blind."

Susan said she and Ted have already been contacted by a large retail store in the community to open a second location. If that works out, she said, she will donate a portion of that operation's revenues to the bureau's fund as well.

"We're committed to that. That's just how we'll do business," she said.

The Dollarhides came to the area because of Ted's occupation as a music educator and composer. He is a music professor at Western Nevada Community College and had been a professor at a college at Lake Tahoe after years of teaching and serving as a composer in residence at institutions in Australia and Asia.

The couple made the move from Tahoe to Gardnerville a year ago after taking a mid-winter ride from the lake down to the Carson Valley and discovering the difference in climates.

"Then we started talking to friends about a low-investment business and they suggested the espresso bar, because Auntie M's had left town there. But a couple new ones opened up so we looked at Carson," Susan said.

"The Auntie M's folks had opened a bed and breakfast just across the state line in California, so we were able to buy their espresso cart. They came up and trained us and helped us get set up."


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