Hell must be full, because the dead walk the Earth: Black Forge Coffee House in Allentown remains.
Kelly Braden, AKA Ms. Macabre Noir, has reached an agreement with Black Forge owner Ashley Corts to take over and operate Black Forge Coffee House I at 1206 Arlington Ave.
Braden owns The Weeping Glass, an Allentown oddities and gift shop, located one block from Black Forge at 817 E. Warrington Ave. The two brands and owners share a similar aesthetic and clientele, and Braden previously managed the cafe at Zeke’s Coffee.
“To let a neighborhood coffee shop go in an up and coming area, it just isn’t good,” says Braden. She says that after looking at the shop’s finances, and hearing from disappointed customers, she is confident the location can be made profitable, and she intends to curate small events and other happenings tailored for the intimate space, whose menu and staff will otherwise remain unchanged.
Opened in 2015, Black Forge announced last month that its original Allentown location would close at the end of June, to better focus efforts on Black Forge Coffee House II in McKees Rocks, which also serves as their roastery, offices, concert/events space, and home base for their traveling coffee van.
Black Forge Coffee has been a sponsor of The Pittsburgh Independent since its soft launch, May 1.
An announcement from both owners is forthcoming Thursday morning, June 23. The Allentown location will close for about two weeks July 1 for a slight redesign, before a grand re-opening mid-July.
“If I was going to do this, it wouldn’t be with anyone but Kelly,” said Black Forge owner, Corts. “I have a friend that truly cares about the business; she knows what she’s doing; she’s done it before; she’s a successful businesswoman and she is the only one I would trust with the brand.”
He is a 2x 2023 Western PA Press Club Golden Quill award winner, in feature and business reporting. And a 3x finalist in the investigative reporting category.
He is a 2018 first prize winner in environmental reporting from the Keystone Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists for reporting on lead in Pittsburgh’s drinking water.
In 2022 and 2021, he was awarded a grant from The Gumshoe Group to support his investigative reporting.