While the down spiraling economy once delayed plans for local high school sweethearts Gideon and Christie Anthony to open a small-town retreat for music and coffee lovers, they finally celebrated the opening of their new business, F3, earlier this month.
After opening the shop on Jan. 6, Gideon, who called himself a “coffee geek,” estimated a crowd of more than 2,000 — mostly area students — had already been through the facility’s doors, located at 2304 East Main Street in Lincolnton.
Previously the site of “I Can’t Believe It’s Yogurt,” F3 is attached to Century 21 Town & Country Realty and doubles as a music store, offering guitars, amps and a number of other music-related paraphernalia and accessories, which the Anthonys hope will attract the community’s band-student population.
Gideon, a worship leader at Covenant Bible Church in Lincolnton, noted the exceptionality of being able to purchase guitar strings and a latte in one location.
The shop also maintains an “edgy” vibe, Christie said, with doors hanging sideways from the ceiling as chalkboard menus and black-and-white scenes from New York City life covering the walls.
Gideon revealed during an interview with the Times-News earlier this month that he first felt the stirrings to open a similar shop years before F3.
With retail experience under his belt from once working at a Guitar Center store along with a 15-year career in investment banking, he felt credible about becoming a business owner, completing research for the potential business project in 2008.
However, while returning home from a mission trip to Haiti that year, Gideon halted the idea.
“I felt led by God not to open up a shop then,” he said. “A month later, the stock market and economy fell out.”
About 16 months ago, Gideon again felt the faith-filled call, he said, and pursued it with much success.
Because the shop only carried out a soft opening thus far, the Anthonys said they plan to hold a larger, more public grand opening in the coming weeks.
While at first glance, residents may pronounce the shop title as “F-three,” the name actually reads, “F-cubed,” standing for “friends, food and fellowship,” Gideon said.
He noted how prior to opening the shop, he always used the catchy phrase to describe friendly gatherings at his house.
During the duo’s hangouts with fellow couples, Gideon often prepared coffee drinks for the group, getting practice early on, Christie said.
“Anyone who knows ‘Gid’ knows he loves coffee and he loves music,” she said, referring to her husband as a “connoisseur” of the drink.
When the pair first thought about establishing a coffee business, their friends encouraged them to name the facility after the worship leader’s famous phrase.
In addition to offering the public a full traditional espresso bar with Counter Culture-brand coffee beans — served also at high-end coffee store chain Dean & DeLuca — F3 maintains an array of tasty treats including gourmet cupcakes and Disney World’s own pineapple soft serve ice cream.
Also, for those who have little time to stop inside the shop for a quick sip or music break, F3 provides a drive-thru option, which stays open for the duration of store hours.
Plans for additional food items, including a lunch menu, may be added in the future, Gideon said, but no set decisions have been made.
More than food and caffeinated drinks, the couple wants to create a safe, friendly atmosphere where people can gather.
They were inspired by a Bible verse in the book of Acts, which discusses the constant fellowship of early Christians, Gideon noted.
“None of them lacked anything,” he said, “because they had fellowship. So that’s what we’re about.”
Christie further commented on the couple’s simple vision for the shop and how they have currently have little desire to open more locations, unless they again feel God’s leading.
“We’re just trying to be a good outlet for people,” she said. “We don’t have aspirations to be something grand; we just want to be good at what we do.”
Having recently celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary, the couple, who are parents to 10-year-old Jude and 7-year-old Kara Jane, couldn’t be happier about operating the shop as a team.
“It’s great working together,” Gideon said. “We’ve been friends for a while.”
The two met in high school — Gideon a student at Lincolnton and Christie a student at West Lincoln, at the time.
Future ideas for the facility include extended hours and live music events during the summer.
F3 is open 7 a.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information, visit the shop’s Facebook page or call (704) 240-8888.