Severna Park coffee shop coming to an Annapolis location with a dark history

A family-owned coffee shop in Severna Park will add a second location this spring in Annapolis, landing in a spot with a nationally known history.

The Big Bean, owned by Greg and Christie Coster, will open in late March or early April at 888 Bestgate Road, in a location once occupied by The Capital newsroom. The shop will occupy part of the space where five staff members were murdered in 2018.


Greg Coster said he and his wife knew the corner suite was the location of the shooting and wanted to be sensitive to those who lost loved ones in the attack and those who survived. He hopes to reach out to family members and survivors once the shop is open.

“Maybe we can have a little bit of a healing presence in a place where something so awful happened,” he said.


The Costers bought the Severna Park shop in 2019 from founder Deb Hoffman. It opened on Jan. 1, 2000, and Christie Coster was the shop’s first barista. She returned to a job at The Big Bean after moving back from New Mexico.

The couple met at the shop after both had gone through a divorce, and said they’ve come to appreciate the positive influence a good coffee shop can have on the community. But Greg Coster said they had to balance that with the history of the new location.

“We looked at the business side and then we looked at the intangible side,” he said. “We looked at them 50-50. It would be no good to be a community coffee shop that offered a sliver of healing if it didn’t work.”

Coster said they spent time in the building talking to tenants, and with residents in the surrounding neighborhoods. He said none expressed objections to the shop.

The couple does not roast their own coffees, but instead, offers products from several different roasters. They are partnering with Park Deli, another Severna Park business, for take-out food and fruit smoothies. A patio has been added to the site that can accommodate outdoor seating for 35.

The attack took place on June 28, 2018. Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Wendi Winters, Gerald Fischman and Rebecca Smith were killed by a gunman who barricaded the backdoor of the newsroom and then used a shotgun to blast his way through the front door. Six people survived.

Jarrod Ramos, 41, pleaded guilty to the murders along with the 18 other crimes. He maintains he was insane when he committed the murders. A trial set to start in June will determine Ramos’ mental state at the time of the attack and whether he spends the rest of his life in prison or is committed to a secure psychiatric facility.

The brick-and-glass, multistory building is located just off Bestgate Road and owned by St. John Properties, a regional company whose founder lives in Severna Park. It is home to a number of law offices and medical practices. The Capital occupied about 5,000 square feet.

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Sean Doordan, senior vice president of leasing for St. John, released a statement saying the company did not want to overshadow the traumatic events that took place at the building and looked for a tenant that could bring the community together.

“This is why we were so drawn to The Big Bean and were impressed with the close-knit relationship they’ve established with the Severna Park community,” he said.

Andrea Chamblee, the wife of McNamara, said she’s conflicted about the shop. A vocal advocate for measures to stop gun violence, she said it’s more important to focus on preventing more mass shootings than memorializing the past.

“If you close down every place there was a mass shooting, what would be left?” she said.

While she doesn’t plan to visit the shop, she wasn’t concerned about others going there.

“I don’t have the fortitude to go in there myself, but I hope other people do and they support (local merchants).”


Staff Writer Olivia Sanchez contributed to this story.