Heart of Clark: Cairn offers a place to build community

Published 10:09 am Friday, July 19, 2019

By Nacogdoches Miller

Sun Intern

Since 2012, Cairn Coffee House has stayed true to its namesake, becoming a landmark on Main Street, piled high with specialty coffees and packed with patrons from near and far.

Email newsletter signup

Owner John Dixon said over the years, the Cairn, which has a namesake meaning a man-made rock formation typically left by or found by hikers and travelers on trails, has become a social hub for Bible study groups, attorney meet and greets or a quiet place for the independent worker looking to beat the heat and get some work done.

“We wanted to serve as a landmark for Winchester,” Dixon said.

Their selection of specialty coffees even features names of famous cairns from across the world such as Steinmann, named after a German cairn that reimagines the silhouette of a man in rock form.

Calvary Christian Church initially opened the Cairn as a way to fund the Rowland Arts Center, which still resides on the second floor. But Dixon took over in January 2018, making the RAC and the Cairn independent of each other.   

A sense of wanderlust wades throughout the coffee shop, brought on by a combination of indie music, rustic décor and coffee bags on the wall from a world away.

A fireplace in the middle of the room, partnered with a couch and reading chairs, invites visitors to stay a little longer.

Dixon said with Winchester being an in-between for a lot of people passing through to the Red River Gorge, the Cairn has become a stop for those grabbing a bite or boost as they come through.

“I like that we are kind of a stop on the way from here to the Gorge,” Dixon said.

Sean and Kenya Duhamel of Georgetown were visiting the Cairn Thursday and said they came in after discovering Cairn brand coffee while at a coffee shop in the Red River Gorge.

“(We) loved the coffee and decided to see where it was from,” Sean said, as the couple sat in front of the fireplace.

Looking out the front of the shop, patrons can see the Clark County Courthouse and a historic strip of Main Street.

The antique architecture is a reminder of Winchester’s long history. Sitting in the Cairn puts guests right in the middle.

In his four years working at the shop, Dixon said he has seen a lot of places and people come and go, but has noticed a lot of new people, younger people, who are living in Winchester and working away.

As time marches forward, Dixon said he wants to get more involved with what’s happening around him.

“I want to get more focused and be more in touch with downtown and the community here,” Dixon said.

Tthe shop also welcomes people from the outside, noted by a map in the corner, next to a sign asking, ‘Where are you from?” Guests can mark their hometown on the map, showing the diversity of visitors the Cairn has.

Dixon said they noticed they were getting a lot of customers from outside the county passing through with mission groups, visiting sister churches or vacationing with friends.

“It’s just something cool they could do to make them feel like they are a part of our community or make us feel like we are a part of theirs,” Dixon said.

The farthest spots marked on the map belongs to visitors from Australia.

One group has made the Cairn a meeting spot for their Bible study.

“The key why we meet here is location number one but number two it just provides an atmosphere of Christianity,” Ron Harney said. “We feel welcome to study openly and share with (people).”

The group from Bedford Acres Christian Parish meets regularly at the Cairn to study the books of the Bible and drink “good coffee.”

With his own roaster upstairs, Dixon said the goal is “to provide really good coffee.”

He said educating people on what coffee is and where it comes from helps give a perspective of the miles and hands the beans travels to get here.

“Every coffee is different, and each has its own story,” Dixon said.

Looking to the future, he said he would love to expand the Cairn, whether with a mobile coffee shop or with another location, “that’s in town or not,” further solidifying its place as a landmark of Clark County.