York City's i-ron-ic opens espresso bar with long hours


A crazily bedazzled high-heeled shoe points at customers from its perch on the new espresso bar at i-ron-ic, an art gallery and thrift store at 256 W. Philadelphia St. in York.

The shoe is characteristic of the gallery's eclectic assortment of artwork, much of which is made from found materials.

Jars of candy and baskets of baked goods join it on the counter. Across the black-and-white checkered floor sit two tables with stools. The wall beside them is packed with framed pictures for sale.

I-ron-ic's owners, Steve Billet and David Smith, started serving coffee and other beverages at their gallery on Oct. 19, hoping to start a trend of downtown businesses staying open later.

The espresso bar is open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., seven days a week.

The 7-7-7 schedule is promotional, so people know when the bar is open, Billet said. But it's just the starting point for the espresso bar.

"If people are still here at 7, we might slide into later hours," he said.

When the espresso bar accumulates a bigger customer base, Smith said he anticipates it will be open until around 10 p.m.

The menu: Customers will find cold drinks in i-ron-ic's fridge and can order espresso drinks and coffee from the bar.

The fair-trade coffee they serve comes from Lancaster-based Gerhart Coffee Co.

One item on the drink menu might look unfamiliar even to the most avid of coffee drinkers: the cortado, which is a blend of espresso and sweetened half-and-half, is the traditional version of the Starbucks macchiato, Smith said.

It differs from the Starbucks macchiato in that it's smaller and not filled with foam. It's more concentrated, he said.

The duo plan to add to their drink menu each month, giving themselves time to perfect every addition. They plan to add espresso tonics — espresso with tonic water — and a honey lavender iced latte, Smith said.

A challenge: Smith and Billet said they moved from Rehoboth Beach almost exactly a year and a half ago. They opened i-ron-ic in spring 2014 and started Pedi Cabs of York this past summer.

Since coming to York — Billet is a native, Smith is not — the pair have been listening to the city to learn what it needs, Smith said.

They heard a need for businesses to be open more. When people come from out of town to visit the city, on certain days and at later hours, only the bars are open, they said.

"York has challenged us to stay open at later hours and every day," Billet said.

And they hope to start a trend.

"We're confident it's going to stick and other merchants will follow suit," Billet said.

Expansions: Along with expanded hours, the pair plan spatial expansions, they said.

Their goal is for i-ron-ic to be a kind of nonalcoholic bar, a haunt for creative types in the city, a fun place to hang out.

Above the gallery, in a space with a large window looking out at West Philadelphia Street, they plan to create a lounge for people to enjoy coffee and books by local authors.

"It should be a place where you can snuggle down, enjoy a cup of coffee and get together with friends," Smith said.

That space will accommodate events such as book signings and off-site meetings, incubator stores artists can rent, antiques from other merchants and a booth selling bare root plants and seeds.

Smith and Billet said they also plan to create a sculpture garden in the side yard next to the gallery.

— Reach Julia Scheib at