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Earlham woman turns family Christmas tradition into town café

The owner of “Beans and Beignets”, Nina Lorimor-Easley, said she hopes her cafe spreads joy to anyone who stops in.

EARLHAM, Iowa — For Christmas this year, a family in Earlham wants to welcome the whole town in on theirs. But, they’ll keep it going every day of the year.

The owner of “Beans and Beignets”, Nina Lorimor-Easley, said she hopes her cafe spreads joy to anyone who stops in.

“It’s been going really, really well since we opened up,” she said.

As restaurants shuttered left and right over the past year, Lorimor-Easley took a chance and opened the doors of “Beans and Beignets” at the Bricker-Price Block.

“My job was changing and I was going to need to change focus,” she said.

So, she turned her focus to coffee and beignets, even getting her 16-year-old son, Zaiden, in on it.

“Beignets just aren’t around Iowa, you know? So that’s definitely been exciting,” Zaiden said.

“My son is my go-to. He’s my right-hand man. He’s the master of beignets,” Nina said.

It’s a pretty natural transition for Zaiden after growing up making beignets every Christmas, a family tradition his father, Jeff Easley, started.

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“The beignets have always been a really exciting thing right around Christmas time and has always spread a lot of joy around the family,” said Zaiden.

“Christmas day, we would deliver beignets to friends and family and everybody always enjoyed them, and we always threw around the option of opening a café, making beignets, making coffee and it’d just be fun,” said Nina.

In its first year, it’s been fun for Nina but heading into its first Christmas, the shop won’t have the person who started the tradition.

Nina’s family lost Jeff last year.

“It’ll be hard, but good. We miss him,” said Nina. “It would mean the world. I’d give it all up to have him back. It would be fun. It’d be a blast to have him here and be able to see this. Making the beignets and the whole tradition of it all just meant so much to him. If he could see this, if he could be here, that would be amazing.”

From the café walls to the menus, Jeff’s not too far from it all. His presence is still a part of the tradition his family is carrying on.

“It’s nice to be able to see the happiness not leave with him being gone,” said Zaiden.

Nina and her family hope Jeff’s Christmas spirit and his ability to spread happiness extends outside of their home and the doors of “Beans and Beignets” and into Earlham.

“I love to share the beignets and people come in and gain their own stories,” Nina said.

Beans and Beignets is on Chestnut Street right in the center of town in the Bricker-Price Block.

The nonprofit that oversees the building said Beans and Beignets has seen a lot of success since opening and they hope people continue to support this local family running the café.

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