South Charlotte

Café's success has a sweet story behind it

I like coffee. I love good coffee.

Having heard through the grapevine that there was a new European-style coffee shop in Ballantyne, I knew I had to go.

Jenny and Paul McConachy opened Rush Espresso Cafe in February after moving to Ballantyne from Australia.

Featuring the well-known and high-end illy brand coffee, Rush Espresso had me after one cappuccino and a chocolate croissant.

Jenny, the second of two children, was born in Lewisburg, Pa., where "Bucknell University puts us on the map," she said.

Jenny attended Millersville University in Lancaster, Pa., majoring in early childhood development and primary education.

"I chose to do my practical teaching in Melbourne, Australia. It sounded like a terrific place, and I wouldn't have trouble with the language since English was spoken there," said Jenny.

Her dad and stepmom accompanied the excited young teacher to Australia. They helped her find a furnished flat in Carnegie.

"On Day Two, we were in a coffee shop when I saw a good-looking guy across the room. I knew I wanted to meet him," Jenny said.

Paul, a local police officer, noticed Jenny, too. They met, talked and ended up dating the five months of Jenny's tenure in Australia. Paul flew out to meet Jenny's family not long after she went back to the United States. He stayed four weeks.

Jenny returned to Australia with Paul and they got married. Jenny got a job as a director in child care in Melbourne, and Paul worked on the police dog squad in Brisbane.

"We normally worked with Labs and German shepherds," Paul said.

After 11 years, Jenny was ready to move back to the United States. Paul felt the time was right, too.

"After 17 years as a police officer and a couple of years in the military prior to that, I was ready for a career change," Paul said. The couple and their children - Madison, 10, and Kaiser, 5 - sold most of their belongings, packed up their dog, clothes and Paul's bikes and began the journey that eventually led them to Ballantyne.

"I Googled the economics, schools and cultures of several different cities," said Jenny. "We wanted to be within driving distance of my family in Pennsylvania, so we concentrated our search in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

"Charlotte won."

The family stayed with Jenny's mom for several weeks while they negotiated a location to start a business. The McConachys loved the "pumping cafe scene" in Australia and thought a similar product might be great in Charlotte. Dilworth Coffee was leaving a space in Ballantyne Village, and the McConachys stepped in.

After three days of renovations, Rush Espresso was ready to make its debut.

Open only a few months, Rush Espresso already has a good following on its Facebook page.

"We advertise specials and communicate with our customers there. It's a great medium," said Paul. Open seven days a week, Rush has added many food items, and the breakfast business is booming.

The McConachys have jumped into Charlotte with both feet.

"We think opening a coffee shop is serendipitous since we met in a coffee shop," said Jenny. "It was meant to be."