Hometown Attorney Renovates Historic House into Coffee Shop


Hometown Attorney Renovates Historic House into Coffee Shop

Baristas and Barristers internet café to be a home for conversation, coffee, collaboration and community.

“This is not the Montgomery that I grew up in, but it’s definitely the Montgomery I can continue to grow in. Hopefully, I can help others here grow as well.” These are the words of Monica Whiting, a prodigal child who grew up on the west side of Montgomery in the Southlawn Community. After spending most of her adult life in Birmingham, Monica is excited to return to Montgomery, the city that has always felt like home to her. She returns not only as a resident, but also as an attorney, community developer and local business owner.

Home is where the heart is

When asked why Montgomery is synonymous with home, Monica quickly mentions Trinity Lutheran, the small church school off Rosa Parks Avenue, Cloverdale Junior High and George Washington Carver Senior High School. “The educators I encountered during my formative years are among the most caring, genuinely concerned, relatable and of course intelligent people I know. I spent so much time around them they felt more like surrogate parents than instructors and school officials.”

Sharon Cargill, Deidre (Poole) Howard, Thomas Harrell, Curtis Hollinger, Dr. Henry Terry, the late Dwight Madison Sr., and the late Earline Steele were just a few of the educators and administrators at Carver Senior High who created the space for her to learn and experience home outside of the house where she lived with her parents. She smiled when mentioning Geraldine Gipson and Joyce Whittaker who were also educators and leaders in their fields and surrogate mothers to so many at Carver Senior High as well.  “Recalling how I always felt ‘at home’ when I was at school inspired me to want to recreate that same feeling where others can learn, develop and evolve into their best selves as well.”

Monica’s desire to create a feeling of “home”, combined with her real estate investing experience, led her to purchase and renovate the historic property at 547 South Lawrence Street. Her original intent was to open another location to better serve her legal clients. However, when viewing the property, she thought, “this looks like it could be a cute, quaint, coffee shop.” As such, “Baristas and Barristers” was born inside of this late 1800’s historic house.

Monica will be opening Baristas and Barristers in early 2023, a coffee bar and internet café, that will serve as a hub for business owners, potential clients, students, instructors, people from different professions and walks of life. They will engage in meaningful dialogue, conduct business transactions or just hang out in an environment where impactful conversations, meetings and experiences are happening. B&B will also house virtual office spaces for small business owners who may not need a full-time office space.

What’s in a name?

The name Baristas and Barristers carries significance. Baristas (specially trained coffee makers) and Barristers (England’s term for attorneys) gives a nod to people from different professions and even walks of life, collaborating to create new opportunities. Monica is committed to creating a welcoming environment that feels like home when you walk through the recreated 10ft tall sliding wood doors on the perimeter of the old property. Baristas and Barristers is partnering with other minority and women owned small businesses to feature specially blended imported coffee, decadent desserts and other salads and pastries.

Land, Law and Legacy

As a Real Estate and Business attorney who has conducted hundreds of closings as well as formed and consulted on numerous businesses for her clients, Monica wants to create an environment where people purchasing and selling property or starting businesses are celebrated at the close of transactions. Monica professed, “Reinvesting in our city through real estate or business ownership should be something we all strive towards. It creates a sense of loyalty to the city in our concerted efforts to create a better city within to live, work and play. And that’s why we must celebrate these accomplishments!”

As an Estate Planning attorney, Monica is also familiar with the anxiety or worry that her clients may experience when having conversations about end-of-life issues. So, at Baristas and Barristers, she is also seeking to a curate a safe space to have those kinds of conversations. “What better place to have the necessary conversations than over a beverage and snack, sitting in front of the fireplace or on the porch in a rocking chair?” Monica noted that the typical stoic conference rooms in some law offices aren’t always conducive to those types of talks between attorneys and their clients. “So, I just attempted to create a more welcoming environment to better serve my clients.”

Welcome Home!

Monica proudly proclaims that “although this isn’t the same Montgomery she grew up in”, she hopes to continue to grow here as well as help others grow and solidify their legacies as well. She desires to provide a place for other small business owners to feel at home when conducting business in the city she loves.

Monica is the daughter of Delois and Arthur Whiting, a retired educator and electrician, respectively. She is a proud George Washington Carver High School Wolverine, class of 1998. Monica received her B.S. from UAB, her M.B.A from Samford University and Juris Doctorate from Birmingham School of Law where she served as Sr. Editor on the Southern Region Law Students Journal Review Board. Monica’s previous career field was in Healthcare Administration where she served as Director of Managed Care and Executive Director of a statewide network of over 5000 healthcare providers. Outside of her law practice, The Whiting Law Group—focusing on “Land, Law and Legacy”, she is a Real Estate Broker, Title Agent, Home Builder, Investor, and novice golfer who enjoys live music events, spending time with friends and family, and immersing herself in local cultures as she travels.

By: Tyrus B. Sturgis, a communications attorney serving Alabama and Tennessee. He is a former Montgomery resident and ASU Alum.

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