So, after some brainstorming, she decided to open Higher Grounds Specialty Coffee & Tea, 1709 S. West Ave.
“I was kind of looking for a second act and the idea came to me that Freeport could really use a nice coffee shop on the south end of town,” Faulkner said. “So, I started doing some research and found this great location, which I knew was perfect, and I just kind of rolled with it.”
Higher Grounds, which features house blend, latte, espresso and specialty drinks, has been a popular community gathering spot for nearly 20 years which made Faulkner’s decision to put her business up for sale that much more difficult.
The shop will close its doors — possibly for good — on Saturday.
“It’s been a great ride and I feel like we’re going out on top,” she said. “We’re still very busy and I just knew the time was right for me to retire. Some of that had to do with the difficulty of finding staffing.”
Higher Grounds has offered dine-in and drive-thru service seven days a week since its inception.
The shop, which can seat up to 50 people, features overstuffed chairs, two fireplaces and a back room for business meetings and private parties.
Paintings and photographs from local artists are prominently displayed on the walls.
“It’s a nice place in Freeport where you can relax, talk, have a cup of coffee and just unwind with the day,” said Jim Klinefelter, of Shannon, who described himself as a regular customer for about 10 years.
Higher Grounds regular Cathy Wheeler’s drink of choice is a sugar-free thin mint latte on ice with soy milk, hold the whipped cream.
Wheeler said she is usually a drive-thru customer but she ventured inside the shop on Thursday to pay her respects to Faulkner.
“It’s a gathering place, but to me it has more of a family vibe than the other shops we have in town,” Wheeler said.
Faulkner declined to say how much she is asking for her business but said she’s hopeful the coffee shop will reopen under new ownership.
She described her customers and employees as family.
“I tried to make it a place where people could come and escape from stress and find a peaceful environment,” Faulkner said. “The feedback I’ve gotten tells me I’ve hit the mark on that. Plus, all of the great people I’ve had as employees here. Mostly young people. I’ve met so many wonderful people.”